I am writing this at 2.01am on a foggy, starless Mother’s Day morn. Well, it was 1am precisely one minute ago, but the clocks have jumped forward and an hour of my day is lost already, just like that. I am listening to Alexandre Desplat. I have his haunting “Lily’s Theme” (from Harry Potter, in case you were wondering) on repeat and have just finished reading Greta Thunberg’s speech from this evening’s Goldene Kamera ceremony in Berlin, where she was awarded a special Golden Camera for her climate activism.
“We live in a strange world,” she told the audience. “Where we think we can buy or build our way out of a crisis that has been created by buying and building things.”
This Mother’s Day, I have asked my children not to buy me “stuff”. There is nothing I want or need, save a world that they will be safe to grow old in.
It’s hard though, isn’t it. To step off the commercialism train and actually say no. In capital letters. Loud. Loud enough so that EVERYONE can hear. To say that I don’t need another mug with “Best Mam” in floral script. Really. Or a bunch of intensively grown flowers that are 5 times the price they would be any other Sunday. It’s hard to stand your ground when you’re walking against a tide of gifts and giving and expressions of love. It’s hard too when everyone else in the country is doing that very thing, creating that very tide. Buying, giving, expressing. How do you get away from it?
Both my girls have been unwell this week, so we’ve been trapped at home, away from the temptation of shops full of “stuff”, making it easier to resist. And amidst the exhaustion that comes with caring for two poorly kids while still trying to keep the house vagely tidy and get some (any?) work done, I’ve reflected a lot on how blessed I actually am. Being a self-employed, home educating single mother is bloody hard work, there is no denying that. But where once there was the push and pull of the daily grind, the unrelenting sense of being tied to a job that left no space for the care of my children, tied to a school system that left no space for a poorly child to recover fully before being pushed back into the busy highway of targets and expectations, now there is space. All. The. Space. As much of it as we need. Space to learn that letting oneself heal, in however much time is required, is one of the most important things we can do for our emotional, as well as our physical well-being.
Yesterday I was due to be at the wonderful Star Bazaar. I’d been looking forward to it and had my stock packed and ready. But I spent most of my day on the sofa, with my youngest asleep on me, warm and snuffly, and nothing to do except listen to her breathing, and watch the rain through the trees. Then later, listening to my eldest telling me her Minecraft stories, her frustrations with life, what exciting facts she’d discovered today, her happy memories of Forest School. She calls it “Time”, when we get to sit together, and just be the two of us. I call it the best bit of being a mother. Listening. Cuddling.
It’s easy to feel blue when you’re stuck in the house, waiting for children to feel well again. Waiting to get out in the sunshine and do fun stuff again. It’s truly a test to anyone’s patience. But today, despite my frustrations at missing an event, I’m remembering that Time and Space with these amazing girls will always be more important than stuff, this day or any other. Keep your “Mam” mugs, and your polyester teddy bears,and your extortionate cut flowers. I already have everything I need.
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