Sunday was an odd day. Mother’s Day in the UK but not in the US created a weird half and half experience that left me tearful and homesick.
It began earlier in the week when I flippantly teased son #1 during a FaceTime call. I laughingly reminded him that it was Mother’s Day expecting a typical teenage boy response, something along the lines of ‘yeah but you’re not here, so it doesn’t count’. But in fact, he proudly held up a post office receipt for the card he’d bought and sent over a week earlier. The wind was completely taken out of my slightly smug sails. I never expected him to go the extra mile(s) and immediately cried grateful and humble tears.
When Mothering Sunday arrived, in addition to the cards we had sent, (no cards in the US, thank goodness for Moonpig) Pete and I relied on technology once again to bring us closer to our own mums. My mum looked radiant, my 92 year-old nan was full of laughter (and a large vodka!) and son #1 was with them both for the weekend. Everyone looked like they were having a lovely time. But, by the time we video called my wonderful mother-in-law, I couldn’t even look at the screen or say any of the things I wanted to say. The floodgates had opened. I wanted my mum.
In church, that morning, we’d heard another brilliant sermon on family relationships, specifically between parents and children and also between siblings. There were warnings about favouritism and rivalry but also of the nature of unconditional love and the words we use to build each other up. It got me thinking about how different our boys are and how important it is that we nurture and build them up to be confident of our unconditional and equal love for each of them.
There’s no doubt – our boys are very different. Back to Mother’s Day, and in contrast to his elder brother, son #2 took the US route. ‘It’s not Mother’s day here’ so no card, no flowers and no breakfast in bed. To be fair, there were no cards on sale and he had a heavy cold, so I let him off. It was now son #1’s turn to be smug, surely he had won more son points? We laughed and I said no, because later in the year, son #2 would get his chance. It was then that son #1 remarked that just like the Queen – who gets to have two birthdays – I would get to have two Mother’s days. I liked that idea.
It would be easy to see Mother’s Day as another emotional hurdle – missing our mums, missing our eldest son. But now, thanks to my two boys, I’ve been able to repackage this as an opportunity to truly appreciate the uniqueness of each of them. When the time comes, I’ve no doubt that son #2 will rise to the occasion. And Sunday did not go completely unmarked. He’s not a hugger, but he definitely indulged me more that day, understanding that I needed him to fill the hug quota for my mum and his brother. A small thing, but a big gesture from a 15 year-old – and part of his unique gift for empathy (and tolerance!).
There were many posts and articles on Sunday reminding me of how grateful I should be. For those coping with bereavement or infertility, Mother’s Day can be a cruel reminder of loss. I have a mother, I have a mother-in-law, I have two sons and two Mother’s Days, and if that’s not enough to make me feel like a queen, I don’t know what is.