Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Messing with Mother's Day

This time last year (depending on when you are reading this) I was sat in church.

My son was taking part in a school service dedicated to Mother's Day, and I was in the congregation.

All the children were lined up, each clutching an A4 piece of very slim tree awaiting their five seconds of show time.

They took it in turns to hold up a picture they'd made, which was also their cue to verbalise what made their mums special, what I think they'd tried to represent in their drawings.

All very cute.

Then, it came to my son's turn.

I took a deep breath.

He held up his masterpiece.

Looked decidedly uncomfortable.

Then mumbled something, rushing his etching back to his side, all while still looking very sheepish.

I took another deep breath.

He didn't get upset, and I was certain he wasn't suffering from stage fright, but it wasn't something I enjoyed watching him go through.

The worst part of it was I felt it was totally avoidable, and had I been more thoughtful beforehand – and perhaps prepared to interfere – I could have prevented his discomfort and pain.

In previous years the school – and nursery before them – have always asked me how they'd like me to handle their Mother's Day activities.

Last year they didn't.

Instead they took direction from Max, who leaped on their suggestion to celebrate Mother's Day by using it to recognise favourite females in his life.

So, apparently his drawing was of his grandmothers, and he was explaining why they were special.

But I think when it actually came to it, and seeing a procession of children all talking about their mothers, he knew it wasn't right, and thus he felt discomfort.

It was a fudge.

A thoughtful and well meaning one.

But still a fudge.

Totally understandable why the school would be sensitive to his situation, but it isn't really a situation that you can bury your head in the sand to, or manipulate easily into something else.

My philosophy has always been that while I openly acknowledge that his mother has died, I can't see why my son can't join his peers in celebrating her, with a card, poem or whatever they choose to make.

Just because she is not physically here to enjoy the card, words or crafts he may make, doesn't mean he can't make them.

It's not an easy concept to explain to children.

But I'm convince it is – currently – the right path to go down, and right to encourage and reassure him that it's fine to celebrate his mother.

I don't want to pressure him to do it, just arm him with the confidence to act this way, and to celebrate his mother on Mother's Day if he wants to.

He's not daft my lad.

A fact proved tonight when we discussed what he's making for his mother at school this week, and the fact that he's going to keep hold of them on her behalf.

“Do you think she'd like some chocolates too, dad?” he asked with his trademark grin.

“Yes, I think she might.” I replied.



Bottle-In-Front-Of-Me said...

I know this particular event is one that must be very difficult for everyone, I find my children are strangley pragmatic when it comes to death. Everyone copes differently, and while it may be uncomfortable for others, it is as good a time to remember someone who's gone as any.

Inaie said...

The only thing I can think of is how lucky he is to have you. Most dads would not know what to do either.

dadwhowrites said...

These are the posts that keep me coming back to your blog.

Smiling Like I Mean it said...

there may not be a 'right' answer to this one, but sounds like you've come close. I'm in my mid-30s, my mum died 21 years ago, and I still struggle a little with Mothers Day. so yeah, I agree not something to bury heads in sand about. hope Sunday is a good day for you both.

PoshBird said...

Do you know what ? You guys sound like a really strong pair and although you may sometimes feel you're negotiating life blindfolded, well it doesn't matter. You sound like a fab dad who is raising a wonderful son , be proud of yourselves.
Whatever you decide to do this Sunday, will be what's right for you both, enjoy x x

Insomniac Mummy said...

I was in year 1, when my mum died. Mother's Day at school was always awkward. Having lost her, I felt excluded anyway, but school used to not mention her, and instead I'd make cards for my Gran.

I know they were only trying to protect me from grief, but they, and so many other people in my life, never realised that what they were actually doing was burying her memory. To the point where for much if my life talking or asking questions about her felt like a taboo subject. I'd never wish that in anyone.

I wish I'd been allowed to remember her.


Becky Willoughby said...

I find the same on father's day though in my children's case their dad has chosen to not be in their lives. When my son started school in Sept unlike others in his class he struggled to write the words dad or daddy as he has never needed to use them! Someone innocently asked my 8 yo what her dad was called and she burst into tears. It's hard for me to know whether to openly talk about their father as it can open wounds.

Sophie Davis said...

Beautifully written and very thought provoking. Mothering Sunday was traditionally a time when domestic servants were given time to visit their "mother church". However, modern times, and the American language, has transformed this event into the Mother's Day we have come to recognise.

It is perfect that you and your children use this time to reflect and remember their mother and the amazing fact that, no matter what, love like this will never die.

Lisa said...

What a lovely post. He's a very lucky boy to have such a thoughtful Daddy :)

Sally said...

For what it's worth, I think your instincts are right, and remembering and celebrating someone, even though they're not with us, seems a more positive approach than a fudge. I hope you and Max have a wonderful weekend, however you choose to spend it.

saveeverystep said...

Wow, what a difficult situation to handle. The child needs to be able to talk about his mum in any space or way he needs to. It sounds like you know what you're doing, and he'll be just fine in your capable hands

George's Daughter said...

Well done! I have raised my children for 17.5 years on my own, and this year, the youngest finishes high school. All will be in college/university next year, along with me. Celebrating the mother and remembering her is the best way to keep her alive. My family members that have passed on still seem very much alive to my children and I, because we do not stop remembering them. The small things DO matter.

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