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The very first present I gave to my mother for Mother’s Day, a very long time ago (which means I can’t remember the year) was a bottle of deodorant. Of course I didn’t know it was deodorant, I had just seen it in Boot’s. It looked like scent and was affordable. My mother was extremely gracious about this strange offering. She completely got that I didn’t know what it was. I was very pleased with myself and while it was an eccentric choice of gift, it was given with real gratitude for all that she did for me. I’m not sure who or what gave me the idea – it wouldn’t have been my father, but it was a good thought.
Back in those days – the 60’s I suppose – Mother’s Day wasn’t nearly such a thing as it is now. I don’t remember being made to make cards at school to celebrate it although at one school I remember rolling tiny bits of yellow tissue paper into balls to stick on two circles made to look like chicks for Easter. (I never ever finished these projects, I was hopeless at ‘handiwork’.) But Mother’s Day – or Mothering Sunday as I prefer to call it came into the general consciousness much later.
Mothering Sunday is a proper religious festival and it is around the time of the Feast of the Annunciation. (Interestingly, about nine months before Christmas.) In the real olden days, as opposed to my olden days which don’t feel all that ‘olden’ at all, young women in service would be allowed to make a Simnel Cake, (fruit cake with marzipan – look it up if its new to you, it’s delicious) and take it home to give to her mother. I like the thought of a woman with several daughters having three or four cakes at once, but I don’t suppose it often worked out like that.
Sadly, my husband’s mother didn’t really subscribe to Mother’s Day and so my children were never encouraged by my husband to bring me cups of tea in bed or make cards or anything. When I complained to him he said, ‘you’re not my mother’ which was both true and unanswerable. Fortunately later I was able to educate them and yes, I did want to be spoilt on Mother’s Day but that they didn’t have to buy me anything and now they all spoil me wonderfully.
But can it all go too far? I remember a friend who was very kind and her whole Mother’s Day was spent visiting first her mother and then her husband’s mother. She didn’t get a rest herself at all.
It is a dilemma. Nowadays my children are all parents themselves – do they want to be remembering their mother when they are being spoilt by their spouses and children? It always worries me, somehow, and so one year I gave my daughter and daughters-in-law presents to thank them for being the mother of my grandchildren. (Actually, only two of them had done so at the time but I couldn’t leave out the one who hadn’t. She’s since come good and given me a lovely baby boy.)
It is lovely to be thanked for all the hard work, the creating a costume the night before a fancy dress competition they swore they didn’t want to enter until bedtime, the getting up in the night to wash kit they didn’t tell you they needed until the middle of the night, the rushing to school with a packed lunch and money for the school trip you only heard about when the school secretary rang you. (They deserve presents too.) I would have loved the milky mugs of tea, slopped on every stair, accompanied with burnt toast and half a pot of marmalade with no butter. Nowadays I get much better presents and one of us cooks Sunday lunch and sometimes it’s a Dad.
But I have no truck with Father’s Day – none at all – as far as I’m concerned they have all the other 364 days. Interestingly my kindly children do recognise it and although ‘he’s not my father!’ I am actually quite pleased.
Love Katie x