Mother’s Day conjures so many images: earnestly clumsy handcrafts and cards, inedible breakfasts in bed, cafes crowded with families over lunch, stiff carnation bouquets and bored children softly squabbling while trailing their mothers at craft markets.
For many, Mother’s Day is a celebration of the here and now – the mother whose hand we can hold before handing over a gift. But for others, Mother’s Day can be a reminder their mother is no longer around.
PhD student Danya Vears, 31, from South Melbourne says, “Mother’s Day can be a tough day. It can be difficult seeing people with their mothers… I will never be able to do that again. It makes me miss the little things – going out for coffee with her or just being able to unload on the phone.”
Often, Vears finds the promotion of the day just as bad as the event, “It’s also the lead up to the day….I miss her often but sometimes it feels like Mother’s Day rubs it in your face a little.”
Vears’ feelings are closer to the original intention behind Mother’s Day than you might expect.
Mother’s Day as we know it was initially created to honor a mother who had passed. In 1907, Anna Jarvis held the first Mother’s Day service and gave out carnations to pay tribute to her mother, Ann, a social activist during the American Civil War. Jarvis held the first event to remember her mother, before campaigning tirelessly to make the day a national event.
Jarvis later decided Mother’s Day was over commercialised and actually campaigned against her achievement. The day and her criticism still stand but others have found special ways to mark the ocassion and remember the mothers they once knew.
Vears will mark the day the same way she has for the past few years: by taking part in the Mother’s Day Classic, a fun run and walk that raises funds for breast cancer and an event she used to attend with her mum.
“The first year after she died I decided I would run the 4km as a tribute to her,” she says. “I felt like pushing myself a little to do something like that was something she would have been proud of – I was never very sporty when I was younger but I knew my mum had been, so it seemed fitting.”
Mother’s Day for Brunswick based writer Clementine Ford will be less energetic.
“Anniversaries affect me very little,” she admits. “My strategies are the same as those I employ every day – I allow myself to feel both grief and happiness when they come, and feel grateful that I had her at all.”
Knowing that it does affect others, Ford takes to social media on Mother’s Day.
“I usually reach out to other people I know may be having difficulty. I might post something on Facebook offering solace and solidarity to others in the Dead Or Absent Mothers Club,” she says.
For both, family cycles continue and grow with new challenges and celebrations. For Vears, it’s been discovering an interest in running while for Ford, an impending addition to her family.
“I’ve never felt anything like the anticipation I feel for my sister’s baby,” Ford says. “Charlotte’s due about ten days after my mother died, but we both feel it would be a nice symmetry to have the baby come on the actual date. Whatever happens, that child is going to grow up knowing who their grandmother was and hopefully feeling as connected to her as is possible.”
On a day when many are reminded of a crucial family connection that has been lost, the day can be softened, perhaps even celebrated, by the connections we’ve made since.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.