Tuesday, 1 April 2014

My Mother's Loves and Me

Me and Mama, c 1991/2

Sunday, as the whole of the UK is well aware, was Mother's Day. Without wanting to sound cynical and negative, incessant commercialism has made this day somewhat themed around trite cards and cheap flowers and oh hell I must get home in time for lunch even though I have a terrible hangover. Pubs, restaurants and caf├ęs are full to the brim of mothers carted out by weary fathers and sugared up small children clutching homemade cards, often granny is also in tow.

I spent the day sleeping very late, which I only seem to be able to do at my childhood home and then cooking an ok roast lamb following a lengthy discussion about timings for a shoulder in the Aga. 

Don't misunderstand me; I think Mothers Day is important to remind people to appreciate their mothers or mother figures. I think for children it is important and lovely for the mothers in question to see their babies' efforts and love. As we grow older though, Mother's Day is about something altogether different; at least in my book. 

At university, I wrote my dissertation on the themes of motherhood in the works of Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter, Mary Shelley. The mysteries of motherhood have always interested me. I think how woman are in adulthood, how they are inside themselves and how they absorb and interact with their environment and the world is often down to the way their mothers or mother figures have raised and guided them.

My mother has taught me to love and live in so many ways that seem impossible to list and analyse. However, I have tried my best to describe the ten most prevalent things that I am grateful for, every day of my life.

1) Love of Nature

This took a while for me to admit. I was a rather bookish young child and a frightfully cerebral yet angsty teenager who preferred deep thoughts and indoors. Though I had a brief spell of wishing I lived outdoors with the animals as a younger child, I soon turned into a hermitty geek loathe to indulge in bonding with nature.

As I grew older and I learnt more, little murmurs of the exaltations I had experienced throughout my life seeped into my consciousness.

Then I studied the Romantic poets and I learnt about the sublime and suddenly what my mother had gently taught me all my life made sense.

Love of nature gives us so much as we move through our lives. From appreciation of transient beauty, of blooms that come and go to the awesomeness of the sky and the sea and the ocean, I am enthralled. I now delight in a weird nature programme as much as I would in a documentary on Sylvia Plath.

Devotion to nature  and the pleasure you gain from it both keeps one grounded and soars us to a god-like high in appreciation of the vast enormity of the universe and your small place in it.

2) Love of Making Things Beautiful

My mother is a bejewelled butterfly, an accessoriser, a decorator, a gardener. She will tie a ribbon on something at any opportunity, her dinner party tables are worthy of their own exhibition and she would be paid a princely sum for her interior design skills.

I, in turn, have always loved to make things pretty and look lovely. From the hours I used to spend making homemade cards as a child to the lighting of candles and decorating of walls that I enjoy now. There isn’t a surface in my house that isn’t filled with a piece of cheap pottery, a photo frame or a candle. At university, we couldn’t really afford expensive Christmas decorations so instead I bought rolls of cheap wrapping paper and papered our entire living room walls for a house party. 

I think it is all about one’s personal environment and creative endeavours being an extension of one’s inner self. I like things to look nice and to feel homely as an aesthetic welcome. That is something that I have definitely learnt from Mama, you can make people feel comfortable, safe and happy through the small details.

3) Love of Colour

Life is colourful, express yourself. Express the world. Don't live in the dark muted tones, you are only hiding. I remember my mother always telling me that people who wear black all the time look miserable.

Maybe that's sexy to some people, not to me.

4) Love of My Flaws

One of the hardest things in the world and something I still work on every day. That bookish child and cerebral, angsty teenager that I mentioned earlier was somewhat brooding and somewhat self-critical, indeed she still is. I spent a large part of adolescence not liking myself very much. It is only in the last few years really that I have learnt to think of life differently. To live life as the gift it is and not to berate myself constantly for the many many mistakes I make but rather learn from them and use them for good.

We will never be the best at everything, we will never be perfect. Perfection in fact is an illusion. Sure you could have skinnier thighs, a better paid job, a boyfriend, or perhaps you don't think you're nice enough or you don't see your friends enough... Turn off the inner voices and focus on living daily, being mindful of yourself and those you care about and come into contact with. If you can love the little things you will soon love the big things.

I succeed in this about 75% of the time, which I believe to be reasonably good. My mother is responsible for teaching me how to think like this or at least guiding me towards it. It has changed my life.

5) Love of the Universe 

If you can't take the hippy-vibes or are a die hard cynic.. you may want to look away now... I'm not going to write a big long speech here. I only like to talk about this to people who are open to it really.. it's all about the positive thoughts, actions and questions. The picture above says it all.. Again my mother introduced this way of thinking and I embrace it wholeheartedly..

6) Love of Positivity 

Dream, love, be kind to others, smile and think the best and you'll find that life can treat you quite well..

7) Love of Talking

I don't know what my first words were but I know that I sat at adults' dinner tables from the age of three talking nineteen to the dozen, with very astute opinions in many things.

All my school results would have remarks about talking too much, about distracting others who needed to listen more than I did... (there's the casual arrogance again)

Meanwhile, I would get irritated with my mother as she stopped to chat to someone in the school car park.

I still talk too much, I could talk all day in fact to those I love. Gab gab gab, nonsense, nonsense, nonsense. The weird thing is people who don't know me, may think I'm shy, because I don't necessarily talk before I have got stock of someone, of their boundaries, of their interests. You see, generally I talk to air my soul and sometimes you just don't want to do that with strangers.

Again, it was my mother who allowed me to talk this much rarely telling me to shut up or be quiet as many a parent are apt to... She once told me and a friend off for gossiping when we were about 17, but we were being mean. She rarely told me to shut up just to silence my flow of chatter... however irritating it may have been.

8) Love of Reading

People used to laugh at me when I was younger for reading so much. One girl even threw a book I was reading out the window. I was more irritated than anything.. I was at such a good bit.

Reading has honestly held my hand through every age of life, showing me so many various scenes and scenarios and characters and choices and events that I never felt alone or like there weren't a thousand different wonderful experiences to have in life.

I was never ashamed of being a bookworm even when I was teased for it. In fact I rather ridiculed the people that did not read. Wannabe-intellectual-snob that I was. How have they never experienced that pleasure.. I thought to myself. How sad.

My mother read to me for hours and hours before I could do it myself (that was not very long- I started young) then she read me harder books and then she bought me books and now we discuss books and swap books and sometimes I buy her books too. Reading is one of the things that I love most in life and so I am ever grateful for this nurturing from a young age.

9) Love of the Future

Never be afraid but embrace it and look forward to all the amazing things that are to come.

When I was a child, my mother used to sing to me in bed. My favourite song she used to sing was the famous Doris Day song, Que Sera Sera. It comforted me then, as it does now. Chill the f*** out, we can't see the future...

When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother, "What will I be?
Will I be handsome, will I be rich?"
Here's what she said to me
"Que Sera, Sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be"
When I grew up, I fell in love
I asked my sweetheart, "What lies ahead?
Will we have rainbows, day after day?"
Here's what my sweetheart said
"Que Sera, Sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be"
Now I have children of my own
They ask their father, "What will I be
Will I be handsome, will I be rich?"
I tell them tenderly
"Que Sera, Sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be"

10) Love of People who Touch Your Life 

Whether they are friends or family or lovers or flings or acquaintances or people you meet just once and smile at. People are what make your life great not things or achievements or anything else. Maybe this is obvious, but if it is most people don't act like it. Don't be rude to the checkout assistant or bus driver, don't whine for no reason or snipe at a friend because you've had a bad day. At least try not to.

I have felt entirely loved in every which way by both my parents all my life and I know I am incomparably lucky for this. So, I just try to reflect a little bit back at others.

Happy Late Mother's Day Mama x x x x

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