My son comes home from crèche with a small bundle of paper posters and cards. A paper plate with a ribbon attached reads
World's Best Mum
Clearly a tie then with all the other mums, receivers of identical paper plates.
You are my sunshine
Now, this is more like it. This is at least true sometimes. We pull on opposite ends of a skipping rope. I pretend to fall over when he lets go. He laughs hysterically. We repeat and repeat, while baby looks on entranced, face covered in raspberries.
If I am the sunshine, I am also the other weather; a scowling dark cloud; a sudden gust of annoyance; the rain on his bedtime parade.
I am not a perfect mother. I am not the best mum, but a doing-my-best mum.
It can be difficult to select a Mother's Day card. They seem to cater for a type of mother I don't think I've ever met; ones who love lavender and bunnies.
My mother is not perfect, she is not my best friend. I say this not because we have some complicated relationship- she is, and has always been, a great mother, and a good friend- but why should she be perfect? Who the hell is? Why should she feel like she has to be my best friend?
What would we say to our mothers if we wanted to honestly honour all they do for us?
Thank you for doing your best under circumstances that were often difficult. Thanks for giving me the emotional grounding for some of the most rewarding friendships I have had in my life.
I have two sons. I don't expect they will call me a perfect mother, or their best friend. But I hope I do a good enough job that they call me sometimes and that they have great friends. I hope they grow up confident enough that they don't feel a pressure to strive for perfectionism but that they are not blind to their own flaws.
My friends and I, we don't care for manufactured holidays like Mother's day and Valentine's. We are too cynical for all that.
Until Valentine's and Mother's day come and go unmarked.
Until at the end of the day, two small humans patter into the room and deliver their mother's day flowers and mug, plant kisses and hugs.
Until the paper plate with the ribbon attached and a poster with a small handprint comes home from crèche .
Perfectly complicated, perfectly confused.
If the cards are to be believed, mothers are flowers and roses and chocolates and hearts.
But mine is cups of tea and a pile of books by the fire and apple tarts and stews and a woman on a stage with her hands on her hips reciting lines from a Sean O'Casey play.
Who I am to my boys is yet to be revealed. Surely a smiling, frowning, laughing, sighing, shouting, crying face. The face of an imperfect human, perfectly mother.