On Mother’s Day

By: Aisling Lynch

On Mother’s Day, we remember. We are reminded, not that we ever really forget. Though our mothers are gone from our lives, much remains. For some, what’s left behind is complicated and difficult and traumatic. For others, beautiful memories of special times together forever linger.

At this time of year, our minds take us back. What does Mother’s Day evoke?

I find myself thinking about what my own mom taught me about motherhood. She was very human and not perfect, but what she showed and told me about being a mother, I carry with me still. Decisions big and small in my daughters’ lives; I often listen to my mom’s voice inside my head and her wisdom guides me. She had shrewd insights and such practical, sound judgment around many, many things. Experience had taught her a multitude; she had five children, so she had seen it all.

Education was hugely important to her. She wanted us to thrive in school and she ensured we had everything we needed to succeed. I remember going to the local bookshop with her, book list in hand, before the start of every new school year in September. She would inspect the second-hand books before we chose one, wanting to get a good, sturdy copy of each, the one that had best survived the first pair of hands. She covered each book in heavy brown paper, our names written across the front cover, to protect them from wear and tear during the months ahead.

A strong pair of black leather shoes were an investment at this time of the year too, to round out our school uniforms. Sensible and practical, nothing cheap and flimsy that would fall apart by Christmas. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we never wanted for anything, especially related to school. If sacrifices had to be made elsewhere, so be it. The money would always be made available for our education.

Homework was expected to be done with the utmost diligence and she would regularly help my sisters and I with this, especially in our early school years. I can still hear her spelling e-n-c-y-c-l-o-p-e-d-i-a aloud in my head! Repetition and practice were the key! I do the same thing these days with my own girls, reciting their spelling and their times tables.

If something had to be done, no matter how arduous or unappealing, my mom ensured it was. Antibiotics had to be finished! She took the doctor’s good advice to heart, and always administered the full course of medicine, even when symptoms had already abated. She didn’t allow complacency or laziness to stand in the way of sensible advice. When she was sick with cancer at the end of her life, and her doctor recommended drinking plenty of water to counteract the side effects of her medicines, she filled up her jug every morning and set it by her bedside, ready for the day ahead. It wasn’t something she wanted to do, but it was the right thing to do.

She was already gone when my babies were born. But so much of her advice and wisdom about taking care of little infants came back to me in those early weeks and months. Things I hadn’t remembered learning but that had somehow stuck. Make sure to keep the nipple of the bottle full of milk when you’re feeding the baby. You don’t want them sucking in extra air and getting even more gassy. And speaking of gas, when their tiny mouths start to twitch upwards at the sides, in a kind of split-second smile, their bellies are probably full of wind! Put them right up on your shoulder and rub their backs until you hear those gorgeous little burps come out! They may look sleepy but it’s more likely to be a gassy coma! When I think of my mom every day, but especially on Mothering Sunday, I think of her hard work, her determination, and her sacrifices. She taught me that mothering isn’t about getting but giving. I try to follow her example with my own children, and I hope I can model some of those same behaviors for them to pass on to their own kids in turn.

3 replies on “On Mother’s Day”

More please … I loved it. I felt challenged and warmth all at once . I felt your mother’s words in my own parenting . Sounds like you had a good mum. My mama was a good mum – deeply missed and forever in my mothering consciousness.

Thank you so much, Anna. I am so glad you enjoyed reading this piece and that you took the time to share that here. Writing posts like this one can feel vulnerable and so a comment like yours is particularly appreciated. Thank you, again. And I hope your Mother’s Day was a good one, if a little bittersweet.

How beautiful…..I can hear her voice too so clearly through your words. She was such a beautiful person….wise, funny and so practical.
Not one for over sentimentality, yet we always knew we were loved. Like you, I miss her every day….our beautiful mom. Thanks Ais. Your big sis. XX

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