Always of complex emotions, Mother’s Day 2021 will be especially charged after a year of absence, separation and hope. Three women share their take…
As we approach our annual festival of breakfasts in bed and bunches of daffs, its worth reflecting that behind the pastel-coloured greetings cards, reallife relationships with motherhood are often complex. While Mother’s Day 2021 brings a welcome opportunity to celebrate maternal power in all its forms, for some it’s a bittersweet reminder of separation and loss. With more off us than ever missing our mothers, and holding hope for reunion with our nearest and dearest, we spoke to four women for their perspectives…
“I miss my mum; Zoom just isn’t the same” Frederike Harms
“I fell pregnant at the end of 2019, obviously not knowing what kind of year we were heading into. Hattie was born in August, so my whole pregnancy was full of negative scenarios because the doctors had to make sure I knew the risks, both as an older mum and because of the pandemic. The reward is just being with her. Life has a completely different meaning now; nothing else matters. I prioritise different things now, which of course I expected and am used to: it’s my job to help others do that. I miss my mum; I’m from Germany originally, and I used to really feel the geographical distance. Now that seems to have melted away; if my family lived in the same town I still wouldn’t be able to see them. The last couple of weeks have been the hardest, and though we can speak on Zoom it’s just not the same as being together. These first months of Hattie’s life will never be part of their memories of her, so that’s painful. When this situation is over my first priority is to build those bridges.“ frederikeharms.com
“Becoming a mum without your own mum to lean on can feel like a disorientating whirlwind” Claire Munnings
“For the past few years Mother’s Day has been a bittersweet event for me. As a mum to two young girls, I treasure every moment in the day (well, the ones which don’t involve tears or tantrums!) and hug them that little tighter as I put them in their beds. However, moments like this also bring to the forefront how much I miss my own mum who sadly passed away five years ago. Not having her around has been incredibly tough and I can’t help but feel sad that she never got the chance to meet her grandchildren or celebrate Mother’s Day as a Nanna. Becoming a mum without your own mum to lean on can feel like a disorientating whirlwind and there have been plenty of times that I’ve wished I could put my arms around her and say a heartfelt ‘thank you’. It’s only since I’ve experienced first-hand the love you pour into your children and the hours you spend rocking them to sleep, soothing their pains and giggling over the silliest of things, that I’ve come to truly appreciate all that she did for me and the bond we had. Despite the waves of grief the day usually brings, I also try to be grateful for all that I’ve had and all that I have. I know I’m very lucky to have had such a wonderful mum and a close relationship with her, and I’m also so lucky to have two beautiful children. This year will be no different. We may be in lockdown, but I’ll still raise a glass to all the strong females in my life – those who are no longer with us and those who are running around my feet causing havoc.“
“Being grateful for your mother or to be a mother is an every day thing” Abbey Narhkom
“Mother’s Day is one day a year, but being grateful for your mother or to be a mother is an every day thing. I try not to dwell too much on the fact I see a different side of it as part of my job, but Mother’s Day can be a sad and difficult time for many women who have lost their babies, either before or after birth. It’s not just having a child that makes you a mother. There have been so many changes to the way midwives have to work. So much of our communication with birthing mothers is through touch and eye contact and facial expressions. It’s really hard to communicate non-verbally with a mask on, and gloves. The PPE is a barrier; it makes it more medical. Before the pandemic my mum would stay over during my night shifts and take my boys to school. I’ve not been able to see her much in the past year, even though she just lives half an hour down the road. I saw her on Christmas Day and a few hours in September when she worked on my garden – we chatted through the window, it was lovely.“
“Six years on, I’m more able to deal with my grief ” Vicky Warrell
Deputy editor of Health & Wellbeing
“My mum sadly passed away after a short illness six years ago, when I was just 23. My first Mother‘s Day without her was incredibly hard – I remember walking out of my local Tesco in tears after being overwhelmed by all the signs reminding me to ‘buy something nice for mum‘. Sometimes it‘s hard even now to not feel jealous about others being lucky enough to still have their mum to spend the day with, but six years on, I‘m more able to deal with my grief. Every year, I make a note in advance of when the day is so I can prepare myself for the onslaught of cards and presents in the shops, and I actively avoid social media on the day itself. I now spend each Mother‘s Day with my dad and sister at the tree where we scattered my mum‘s ashes, and we leave some flowers for her.“
Tips to help cope
To help anyone struggling, Bianca Neumann, head of bereavement at Sue Ryder, has some advice:
Mother’s Day might be a day that brings up difficult emotions – you might have thoughts about ‘what-could -havebeen’ or you might feel you are missing out on what others have.
When someone is grieving, they may find comfort in talking to others in a similar position. Whether that is a friend who has also lost a parent or a family member. You may find that plenty of other people are experiencing the exact same feelings as you.
If you are grieving this Mother’s Day, try to identify your feelings and communicate your needs with yourself and others. Could you make it a day you feel loved in other ways and by others? Perhaps you can share your love with somebody else? After all, Mother’s Day is about celebrating bonds, whether they are biological or chosen family. Most of all, you must be kind to yourself.
Sue Ryder provides online bereavement support, including free video counselling delivered through trained bereavement counsellors; an online community forum offering and a wide range of advice and resources for people who are grieving or supporting someone through bereavement. To find out more, visit sueryder.org.