So, unless you live under a rock, it can't have escaped your notice that today is Mothering Sunday/Mother's Day or whatever term you choose. The day for celebrating the women who brought us up. If you are a Mother yourself, you are also celebrated.
However, what happens when your mum has died?
Regular readers will know that my own mum passed away just before I met my husband, several years before I became a mum myself. She was a fantastic woman and an awesome mum. Although not without her own demons, she really did give her whole self to her children.
In the years that followed, Mother's Day became a time for myself and my siblings to get together and share memories of mum, as the years have gone on this has become particularly important for my youngest sister, who was just 8 years old when mum died. We also took the opportunity to try to ensure auntie knows how much we appreciate her, having become a "second mum" sort of figure, particularly for us girls!
I, perhaps naively, assumed that Mother's Day would be easier once I had a child of my own and became a mum myself.
As my first Mother's Day approached in 2011, I asked my husband to just let it pass. I didn't want it to start being about me, it had never been about me and I didn't want to start now. However, my husband ignored this and got me a card and a small bunch of flowers. After several years of muddling my way through it, 2011 then became the hardest year after the first. I was once again stunned by my grief, upset and angry that my mum would have been an awesome nanny to H, she would have adored him and I am quite certain she would have sneakily got her own key cut to our place!
This year, my youngest sister was tied up in GCSE Drama rehearsals all day so my other sister and I decided to take a day trip back to Bournemouth to spend some time with our brother and visit mum's grave.
For me, the tears started as soon as I woke up and opened my card from my incredibly thoughtful auntie. The message inside read "Just wanted to take the opportunity to tell you what a wonderful mother you are to H. Your mum would have been so proud of you both!" I often wonder if I am the only parent who can never truly believe in myself, who frequently feels like my son deserves someone better to be his mum. This morning, after reading that, was the first time in a long time that I have believed it. I wondered if perhaps it is all the uncertainty of the last few months which has led me to think that way so much.
As ever, my sister and her partner arrived 15 minutes early and we set off for Bournemouth dead on 9am as planned. Had it been down to my husband and I, we most likely would have been running late!
On arriving in Bournemouth, we stopped at our youngest sister's dad's for coffee (me) and tea (everyone else) and arranged to meet my brother at the cemetery I held it together for all of about 15 minutes before taking myself to the nearby tree to hide for a sob. The husband and H came over and gave me a hug and I let out a sort of wail. I didn't understand why it was suddenly so hard again. Being my third Mother's Day as a mum myself, surely I should have got used to it by now? Perhaps it is because H is too young to know? I don't need to keep up a front of happiness just yet.
I have had several more bouts of tears, each time with the husband giving me a cuddle. The irony? He lost his own mum shortly before we got married. OK he didn't have a close relationship but after several years of no contact (certainly none in the years we had been a couple) they had very recently got back in touch and she was considering attending our wedding blessing. Yet every year he has comforted me, not once has he shed a tear for his mum. Every year I have been too wrapped up in my own sadness to even ask him.
Do I feel guilty? Of course I do. Yet I know him well enough to know that even if I did ask him how he was feeling, if he was thinking of his own mum, he would answer that he is fine, that he just wants be here for me.
Two weeks time marks my mum's birthday. At the end of April, it will have been nine years since my her death. H turns 3 in May. So, I ask you, my loyal readers, will I ever get to the point where I can let go? Will I ever be able to celebrate Mother's Day for me? Let a fuss be made for me as a mum? At this moment in time, I simply cannot ever see it happening.