By Orla Gibney Freeman
I was queueing for a coffee on a recent visit to the hospital. A mother and her pregnant daughter caught my attention. The mum was offering her daughter some "unwanted" advice. In response, the mum-to-be was rolling her eyes and shaking her head. I smiled to myself as it all looked so familiar. I had done this many times to my own mum through my teenage years, 20s but not so much in my 30s. In my 30s motherhood had given me pay back for every eye roll and head shake I had given my mum.
I sensed that this was the young woman’s first baby. I knew that for her, her eye rolls would become less once her baby was born. In my head, I was telling this mum-to-be to be grateful for all her mum’s "unwanted" advice. The loss of my own mum taught me that someday these would be the moments she would miss the most. In truth I was not talking to the girl in front of me. I was talking to my 28-year-old nine month pregnant-self.
There are two times in our life when we truly appreciate and understand the vital role of our mothers. The day we become one and the day we lose one. We often take it for granted that they are there. They are the silent clog in the machine, they are the ones who keep our lives rolling without us knowing. They are the ones who tell us the truth, our harshest critics but greatest supporters. When they are gone this is what we miss most, their unconditional love and support.
There is never a point in our lives when we get over them not being there. They remain forever within our shattered hearts.
When your mother passes away you are permanently isolated from her. If you had a chance to see her again in a few weeks or months you would do things so differently. You would realise that it was not the big things that were important but the small things. You would understand that the things which caused you to roll your eyes were the things you missed the most about her. You would realise that she was not just your mother but she was your first and best friend.
You would realise that no one looked out for you more than your mum. When we are busy mothering our children she will be the one to see your tiredness. You miss being mothered because no one, only your mum, will ever do that. Covid-19 is already giving many a sense of this immense loss.
This Mother’s Day will be so emotionally charged not only for those who are permanently separated from their mothers, but also those who are temporarily separated. The tradition of Mothering Sunday lunches is broken because of social distancing. Covid-19 is a virus which is changing our everyday lives and routines. It is taking away the celebrations of days like Mother’s Day and the opportunities to gather to make beautiful memories. Covid-19 will destroy many of our plans in the short term. However, in the long term there will be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow following this storm. That gift will be gratitude.
Never again will people complain about the numerous trips they made to visit their parents. They will never complain about their mother’s advice or her calling to visit because she was just passing. Covid-19 and social distancing is giving people a taste of what it is like not to have that physical contact with their mothers. This loss is hard. But hopefully because of this discipline of social isolation people will have many many more Mothering Sundays to celebrate with their mothers.
For those of you who are keeping their social distance from their mothers this Mother's Day you still have the chance to see your mums through video call. You will now speak to them with a new found appreciation like you have never had on any Mother’s Day before. When social distancing becomes a thing of the past and you return to the arms of your mother, give her an extra big hug. Why not give her an extra squeeze for all those who will never get the warm embrace of their mothers arms again.
Covid-19 will change us forever but we have the power to make sure it changes us for the better; by not taking the people who matter most in our lives for granted. We will always love our mothers and feel their love no matter where or how far away they are.