This year the UK celebrates Mother’s day on the 14th of March. It changes dates each year but is celebrated on the fourth Sunday in Lent.
There are records of a celebration of mothers going as far back as Ancient Greece, but was a celebration of the Rhea, the mother of the gods and goddesses. In the UK it has origins in the Catholic church that celebrated it as a day to give thanks for the Virgin Mary also known as Mother Mary.
In Victorian years it was a day when servants were given time off to visit their own mothers and for many servants it was the one day of the year they got to spend with their family. There was even a Mothers cake often made with the masters permission that was made to be taken to their mothers.
Traditionally in the UK it was called Mothering Sunday and I think it’s a shame we’ve lost that term.
Being a mother has never been something I’ve felt called to, but I have friends who longed to be mother and yet, were never given the opportunity and for them, Mother’s day has sometimes given them a sense of failure that there was one thing in life they didn’t achieve. On the other hand, there are people who I have tried to be a ‘mother figure’ to.
I’ve mentioned my dad several times and mentioned that he died a few months ago, but perhaps not so much mentioned my mum, who also died a few months before dad.
This year, for me and many others, will be the first year when Mothers day, will be more difficult and I wonder whether churches will consider that in their services in a few weeks time. To be honest though, I’ll probably just give that Sunday a miss.
But it does make me wonder whether we should make a return to Mothering Sunday over Mothers day.
I’ve had one Mother, it wasn’t always a perfect relationship, but she wouldn’t be replaced in my eyes. On the other hand, throughout my life there have been many men and women who have come into my life and taken on a role of ‘mothering’ and ‘fathering’.
Although I only had one set of parents there were many ‘parental’ figures without whom I probably would not have survived.
Mothering Sunday (and possibly Fathering Sunday) would add a nod to the people in our lives who come alongside us when we need them most.
I won’t name them, simply because I’d embarrass some of them who did their part without wanting recognition…
besides, I know I’d miss one or two out!
Women who took me into their homes and fed me, who counselled me and built up my confidence. One woman who convinced a landlord to take a risk and rent a flat to me, another who took a risk and offered me a job. The women who years later, still make regular contact with me which has been so invaluable in lockdown.
We can’t all be mothers, but we can all give the gift of mothering to someone who needs us, and perhaps so much more this year than ever before. People are needing someone who makes regular phone calls just to ask how your week has been. A person on their own needs to be invited into your family as part of their support bubble (I am so grateful that I was invited into a support bubble), Young adults might need inviting to your home for Sunday dinner.
While each year we sit (in my opinion) through Mothers day sermons on how grateful we are for our Mothers, perhaps the sermon should be how we can look out for those who need a bit of mothering! Maybe we should be changing our focus from being inwardly thankful to outwardly seeking someone to help.