Sunday 30th March is Mothering Sunday, a day set aside to celebrate all the wonderful things mothers do and to take time to remember mothers and motherhood. It can also be viewed as a massive guilt trip exploited by crass, commercial marketing hype—we all know mothers should be appreciated every day of the week since a mother’s work is never done—or as a bitter sweet day by those who have lost their mother or indeed for those who have lost and grieved as a mother.

I see it as a day to celebrate all those who put their unconditionally love on the line for children in their life who need mothering and some of those people may not be mothers at all! Some folk take on the mother role especially if the biological mother for some reason did not or was unable to nurture a positive relationship with their child. Such folk may be single fathers who are filling both roles, aunts, neighbours, step-mothers, grandmothers, foster parents, sisters, bosses, your mother’s friends, even shop keepers!

When I was working as a counsellor in a comprehensive school many moons ago I remember fondly one young person who was sent to me after getting into serious trouble at school.  Both his parents were alcoholic and I was advised to contact his social worker but when I spoke with the boy he asked to speak to Mrs Clark. It transpired Mrs Clark ran a shop at the bottom of his street. She had caught him stealing once but instead of reprimanding him Mrs Clark sat him down and tried to talk to him about his behaviour. She told him he could keep whatever it was he needed so badly on the condition that if he ever needed anything again it would be better to ask her first and she would see what she could do. And so when he was in deep trouble he turned to Mrs Clark.

As far as I know he got on the straight and narrow and Mrs Clark ended up being a mother figure to the boy and a god-child to his first child. While working with vulnerable children and teens in the absence of good enough parenting it never ceased to amaze me how one good role model in a child’s life could make the difference of a child believing in themselves and moving forward in a positive way and not believing in themselves and getting further into trouble.

Motherhood brings many challenges and like mothers and mother figures in mothering roles everywhere, I have had my share.  Hands down, it’s the most rewarding—yet demanding—job that a person can take on. For me, mothering is a spiritual endeavour like no other. Mothers have to continuously set aside their own needs to tend to the needs of their children and children they care for. After all, as Tenneva Jordan writes, “A mother is a person who on seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.” So to mothers and mother role models everywhere, who don’t care much for pie I would like to share this poem with you and hope you find a little ‘me time’ this weekend because as a mother it is important to remember to return to your own needs and tend to them too! You deserve!

To My Mother

To-day’s your natal day,

Sweet flowers I bring;

Mother, accept, I pray,

My offering.

And may you happy live,

And long us bless;

Receiving as you give

Great happiness.

Christina Rossetti