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Dublin: 10°C Wednesday 23 June 2021

Column: Mother's Day memories – the challenges, fears and joys of bringing up baby

‘I would steal daffodils for my mother from the neighbour’s garden. I’d fill my hands with the stems until I could hold no more and run all the way home, longing to please the most important woman in my life.’

Image: AP Photo/PA Archives

TO MARK MOTHER’S DAY, some staff and volunteers from One Family share their deepest memories, thoughts and fears about motherhood …

When I was small I would steal daffodils for my mother from the neighbour’s garden. I would fill my hands with the stems until I could hold no more and run all the way home, heart full, longing to please the most important woman in my life. Mother’s Day reminds me of that longing. It reminds me of spring, of fresh starts and of daffodils.- Katriona
Mother’s Day for me is bittersweet. I am 37 weeks pregnant and my plan is to visit my mum’s grave and bring fresh flowers – to have a little chat with her at her graveside, to sit and relish the memories I have of when she was here. When she passed away, I took legal guardianship of my brothers and sister. They are grown up now and I am really excited to start my own little family. Scared and excited all at the same time … – Nicola
This is the year my son will turn 10. And I turn 40. Oh. My. God. Life begins this year, I am told. My “life”, as a mother, began in 2004. That June, I was working full-time, had savings, my independence. By July, I had a newborn. In 2015, I will lose the allowance the Government gives us to live on. I wish I could afford childcare so I can work part-time. But it is not affordable. Nevertheless, I am up-skilling again, like when I sold my car to fund childcare in 2009, but this year I’ll study online at night. I am a caring, hard-working and intelligent mother. I am resourceful. But I am afraid. So this Mother’s Day, I will be cutting corners, spending as little as possible and hoping that 2015 will not mean abject poverty.- Deirdre
It’s 1960. I am nine years old and my brother is eight. We’ve been saving for weeks because Mother’s Day is coming. There is a tiny shop called Graces filled with treasure including a selection of real diamond jewellery. We know they are real because they glitter so beautifully, just like those we have seen the queen wear, or Elizabeth Taylor, in magazines. We visit the shop many times and finally pick a necklace, a magnificent cascade of glittering diamonds. The amused assistant puts it in a velvet box for us. We are thrilled … My mum worked two jobs to keep us fed, clothed and a roof over our heads. But she wore that outrageous piece of costume jewellery, and a big grin, all Mother’s Day. What a hero! – Sherie
I think of my daughter’s tiny black haired head appearing for the first time. Enthralled, I whispered unheeded encouragements into her mother’s ear. Since then, Mother’s Day is a time to appreciate her mother’s love, sacrifice and constant caring for the child we parent. Each and every child is like a pebble dropped into a still pond. The ripples travel far and wide affecting all in their path. Mothers have been, are and always will be a potential force for good in a troubled world. My daughter’s mother birthed a child who has been my redemption. – Declan
It’s a privilege to be woken on Mother’s Day by my children and receive kisses – one impulsively shared, the other more self-consciously given. I’ll ring my own mum and wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. Does she wish, I wonder, that she and I were still at that stage; when you are the most important person in your child’s life? How will I feel when my children move past me into themselves and their own lives? – Linda
My daughters and I like to play a game we call “guess how much I love you”. All the way out to the far reaches of the universe and back again is only a trillionth of how much I love you – these are measures we use. But I know they don’t yet understand the gift of love they have given me by agreeing to be my children. They each have only one mother to love, but I have four children, my two daughters and my stepson and stepdaughter. The secret of motherhood is that love multiplies exponentially, not divides. This is the gift given to me by children. This is what I celebrate today. – Iseult
I’m mothering alone everyday for over 10 years with little external support or recognition so Mothering Sunday means little to me. But the rewards come in the form of regular laughter, hugs, health and happiness and those ‘Wow’ moments that occur. That’s when I am proud of my mothering and realise that my contribution to the human race is growing into a decent person who will go on touch the lives of many in a positive, compassionate way. – Noreen
After I had my son Mother’s Day began to mean a lot to me. I was alone, my husband had left us, my child was premature and sick and every day I struggled to cope. So for me, each Mother’s Day represented that I’d won the battle and gotten through another year. No matter what, I always felt happy on this day – like I was a survivor, not a victim. I see Mother’s Day as a symbol of hope that no matter what happens I can cope, that things will continue to get better. I see it as a tribute to all women who are mothers, and as mothers united bestowing respect upon one another – especially the ‘bad ass’ ones who are doing it alone. – Ellen
I have met many brave, courageous and wonderful women mothering during my time as a counsellor in One Family. Mothering Sunday can be very emotive. There are high expectations that go with the day. A day of surprises and treats, maybe breakfast in bed. I am thinking of many mothers who do not have a family member or partner to make sure there is a card or present. That mother who lives in isolation with few friends or family for support … I am thinking of the mothers I have worked with who have found mothering difficult, who either did not bond with or found it challenging to love their babies. These women find it very difficult to find a safe place to voice this experience. This is to speak the unspeakable. – Marguerite
This Mother’s Day let’s think of the children who don’t have a mum in their lives and make sure they feel included and cherished. Let’s be aware of the dads who are raising children on their own and the women who are mums in their hearts if not in reality. Let’s remember those who relinquished children to be adopted, the mothers who are not able to be legal parents, and foster-mums who raise our vulnerable children. Let’s remember the mums who are working in our hospitals and caring for our children, whose own children may be far away in another country. Let’s remember the mums who go without food themselves and who make heroic sacrifices. – Karen

These Mother’s Day thoughts were written by staff, board and lone parents who work with One Family. One Family, founded as Cherish in 1972, is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting. Services offered include parenting skills courses, welfare to work initiatives, counselling for adults and children, professional development and the askonefamily lo-call helpline on 1890 662 212. One Family is working towards an Ireland where every family is cherished equally and enjoys the social, financial and legal equality to create their own positive futures. Further information on www.onefamily.ie.

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Read: 9 people who got the date of Mother’s Day so so wrong

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