An alternative Mothering Sunday

Mother’s Day, or, being pedantic as I so often am, Mothering Sunday, is a bittersweet day for me. I smile at the many photographs on Facebook and elsewhere of celebrations, of mothers beaming in the many millions of photographs taken today.

Bittersweet, as I said. My mother died in 2009 and, fair to say, I think of her each day but never more than on her birthday and on Mothering Sunday. Alas I can not celebrate either the mother of my children with any credibility any more. Not through any failing on her part, but mine. Enough said. Leave it there.

Don’t misunderstand me please. I do not even for one second begrudge the many mothers their all too brief public appreciation. The one day in the year where they perhaps get breakfast in bed, a couple of bits of buttered toast and an instant coffee.

We males are pathetic animals really when it comes to these things. If you, mothers, wives and lovers, were expecting a full English or perhaps warmed pains chocolat or brioche with a grand creme or cappucino, brace yourselves for something of a disappointment. No chance whatsoever. And there is a better than evens chance that we will fail to grasp the core fact that the washing up is considered to be part of the process of breakfast in bed. Do not simply leave the dirty crockery on the side. Remember her surprise sigh, midway through the morning which she wouldn’t explain? That was this. And don’t delude yourself that it is of no consequence. Women remember these things. Forever!

On this one day of the year we, the males of the species, have to perform those tasks the female performs everyday without making a big deal of it. Do your best, at least do your best. But be aware you will still fall short.

Flowers? Sure, why not. Chocolates? Dangerous. If she sees herself as overweight, you become part of that conspiracy theory. If she is skinny as a rake, she will point out to you the very absurdity of buying the chocolates.

I don’t k now why I’m dishing out advice. It’s not as though I got it right. I can remember to this day the one occasion I failed to send my mother a card. To say that the response was cool would be akin to calling the second global ice age a bit of a cold snap. It was more glacial than there are words. And, like Kennedys death, I can remember exactly where I was standing, who I was with, the birds in the trees. All of these things are indelibly etched in my mind. There are no apologies adequate to convey the full magnitude of my despair. My mother even seemed to make light of it. “These things happen” she said in the kind of tone that made me realise that these things did not happen and that they were never ever again to happen or further transgressions would be greeted at least by disinheritance.

Even so many decades later, I’m sweating as I write this. My mother was one of the most delicate, kind people I could imagine. So to see her, on this one day of the year turned, by my own failings, into a firebreathing gorgon still rankles even now.

And we are now, sadly, beyond the point where I can apologise.