My maternal grandmother was a redoubtable woman. An Edwardian nursery governess, she spent her 20's and early 30's living in exclusive hotels in the North of England, where she ruled her nursery with a rod of iron. She didn't marry until she was 33 but nevertheless she and my grandfather (having by now emigrated to Canada where he had a farm) produced a large brood of their own; my mother and her four brothers. Needless to say, they were all brought up in accordance with her strict views on child rearing. Her voice can still be heard echoing down the generations.
Granny didn't believe in celebrating Mother's Day, seeing it (wrongly as it happens - Mothering Sunday has a long and venerable tradition) as a recent and purely commercial innovation. My own mother, being strongly influenced by her upbringing, was also not inclined to make an occasion of it and I, in my turn, although delighted with the handmade offerings of my sons when they were very young, paid scant attention to the occasion.
It wasn't until my marriage broke down and I realised too late that Mother's Day fell on a Sunday the boys were to spend with their father. I didn't see the need to change this arrangement and fight my corner, the family script being so deeply ingrained, and spent the day alone, feeling lost and displaced, missing my sons on a day that focuses so strongly on the mother/child relationship. It was during that long, painful day that I began to think again about Mother's Day and to accept that it did matter to me, that I did want my children to think of me on this special day and from then on I have carefully nurtured it in my own family.
Yesterday, it was a special joy to spend the day with my youngest son, down from University especially to be with me on Mother's Day, and to speak to my two older sons who couldn't join us this year but made special efforts to phone (they so rarely do - is this a boy thing?). In this family now, every Mother's Day will always be a special day.
I am rewriting the family script.