On Mothers Day I’m not with my Mum, so I’m taking the opportunity to share here some of the reasons why I’m so lucky to have her as my mum (and possibly make up for the fact that between me spending the week in a variety of different states plus the insane slowness of Australia Post deliveries these days there isn’t actually a card enroute to her….)
One of the myriad of things I love about my Mum is that she doesn’t believe in guilt tripping her children or anyone else. She’s always maintained that days deemed by society as unmissable celebrations such as Mothers Day are in fact just dates on a calendar of someone else’s selection, and that what’s really important is families taking the time to catch up and spend time together when they can because they want to, rather than because the calendar tells them they have to. While today Mum’s at home in Victoria and I’m spending an increasingly rare weekend in Brisbane, we had a lovely lunch in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago when a spontaneous opportunity arose.
I suspect this approach originated from spending most of her life a long journey away from her own mother and father, firstly at boarding school and then living at opposite ends of the state, where the opportunities to be physically together were far and few between. We might not have spent many of the ‘important day’s’ with Grandma and Grandpa, or Gran and Grandpop who were similarly far away, but that in no way diminished the relationship we had with them and the connection because Mum made sure to create and maximise opportunities to spend time together when they did present.
I remember Mum and Grandma being prolific letter writers initially, before moving on to weekly phone calls every Sunday night (when long distance call rates were cheapest) and its only now with Sascha currently away on a 5 week school camp and letters our only contact that I’m really able to appreciate how hard that must have been. Being able to pick up the phone and speak to my Mum whenever I feel the urge is a privilege I never take for granted, and I can’t even imagine how much harder my own journey as a mother would have been without her wise counsel on tap whenever I needed it. Mum’s also moved into the digital age with gusto, and is a prolific user of Facebook and Messenger which makes staying connected and in touch even easier – and often proves to be the best way of revealing where we both are at any given time.
Tracking each other online is useful because in addition to the gift of guilt trip removal, Mum has also gifted me with a love of exploring new things and new places. She’s is a keen traveller who’s journeys have taken her all over the globe, and her thirst for discovery shows no signs of abating with a trip to Iceland and river boat cruising down the Mississippi still to come this year. I remember one of the kids completing an exercise at school where they had to draw a picture and complete the sentence ‘My Gran is…’ with the words ‘a world adventurer’ and an accompanying drawing of Mum with her suitcase packed and ready. She always sends them back postcards of those adventures, and they have served as inspiration for many of our own holidays.
Mum is one of the most giving and loving people I’ve ever met who is always doing something to benefit others. That can be through one of the myriad of volunteering activities she undertakes, or her caring thoughtfulness for her friends and neighbours. She definitely instilled a strong sense of obligation in me of the importance of giving back in whatever way you have available to you, and the importance of doing what you can to make the world a better place.
In what may seem a slightly odd juxtaposition, Mum has also taught me the importance of being selfish and setting boundaries. I can remember from a time well before any of us were even thinking about having children of our own Mum telling us very regularly that while she would always be available as a loving grandmother, no one was ever to factor her in to their weekly childcare roster. Don’t get me wrong, she’s always been more than willing to jump on a plane and help out when the need has arisen, including living with us for months to look after Sascha when I was pregnant with Sam and constantly in and out of hospital, but she’s always been clear that she has the right to live her own life and set her own priorities. In a world when mothers face pressure and guilt on so many fronts, I’m so grateful to Mum for not only not placing those burdens on me but also for showing me in the most loving and supportive way possible how to navigate the path to do the same for my own children.
Happy Mothers Day Mum, these are just a few of the wonderful life lessons that you have gifted me, we are so fortunate to have you as our wonderful Mum and Gran today and every day of the year.