I have been absent from my blog for many, many months, for a multitude of reasons. Since I last wrote a post I have moved to a new country, started a wonderful new job, and life has shifted in many complex and subtle ways. Perhaps I will get around to writing about some of them at some point, and perhaps not, but I have tried to be accepting of my needs at different times, and tonight I finally felt the need to return to this space to try and get some clarity to my thoughts and emotions. I have missed the amazing support of the wonderful network of friends I had built up here, and have been very moved tonight reading through your previous comments on old posts – thank you all so, so much, and apologies for my absence (though I trust you will be understanding).
Today is Mother’s Day here in South Africa. Mother’s Day has never been an important event in my family’s calendar. I remember my siblings and I making the occasional breakfasts in bed for my mother when I was fairly young, with cards and flowers and kisses, but it wasn’t a large and carefully marked celebration in our household in the way that birthdays or Christmas were. Since I myself have become a mother, there are the occasional sweet cards coming home from school, but it means nothing substantial yet to my children. So, if Mother’s Day isn’t important to me, why did it make me feel so very sad today?
To begin, let me place the day in context. My husband, Clive, and I were away this weekend, as Clive was delivering a two-day Canoe Polo Referee’s Course, which I was attending. It has been our first weekend ever away from our children for two nights, as they remained with my mother- and father-in-law. Of course I knew the children would be fine, and would indeed have a wonderful time, but I felt unhappy all week about the approaching separation, even whilst telling myself firmly I was being illogical and there was nothing to worry about. Logic can override emotions in my decisions, but it doesn’t take away the feelings, and waking this morning to realise not only was it our first weekend away from the children and I missed them terribly, but it also meant I was spending Mother’s Day without them, was not a happy start to the day, and I wanted to crawl under the duvet and drift back into sleep (despite it having been a sleep disturbed by unhappy nightmares).
The next realisation – that I no longer have a mother to call, write to or treat on Mother’s Day, and no chance to make up for previously lackadaisical Mother’s Day messages – brought another, deeper wave of sorrow, but after pulling the duvet briefly over my head, I decided to simply get up, shower, and distract myself from my thoughts by going through the motions of preparing for the day.
Half an hour later I was briefly online and decided to try and find a balance between being honest about my unsettled feelings and focusing on a positive spin, and thus my facebook status at 8am read: “A Mother’s Day away from my children and without a mother is somewhat challenging, but I am feeling grateful for all the years of love, friendship and support my amazing mother gave me, and all the cuddles and joy my boys give me. Happy (South African) Mother’s Day to all my wonderful friends!”
Was that honest? No, not really. My emotions were not those of gratitude, as I wished them to be, but of sorrow and a deep hollowness. I should rather have kept silent, yet there was something within me that wanted to reach out somehow, and didn’t quite know how else to do it. And so tonight, still feeling increasingly unsettled, I thought it time to finally return to a space in which I do feel able to express and explore my emotions around this issue in a deeper and more authentic way.
I am very aware, moreover, that the issues are far deeper than it simply being Mother’s Day. I have been extremely conscious of the fast-approaching second anniversary of her death, on the 31st May, where I will be unable to join my family and will need to find a way to commemorate the occasion on my own. A few days later will be my birthday, which is still steeped in memories of coping with a birthday shortly after her death, and a few weeks after that will be her birthday – the day I arrived in Cape Town carrying her ashes. Facing these four events in such close succession leaves me feeling a little breathless, but I know that now is the time to face these emotions I have been successfully holding at bay for some time, and throw myself into finding ways to celebrate and mourn that will be meaningful to me.
To end on a lighter note (not because I feel I have to, but because my heart feels less troubled for simply having written, and I want to): a friend posted this on facebook today, and it made me smile, so I thought I would share it