I didn’t plan to write anything today. As far as I was concerned, my blog could sit by itself for the weekend: images selected, text published, some musings on chilly temperatures and big coats enough to sustain the site for a while. But as I lay in bed this morning, contemplating which was more pressing – further snoozing, or making myself a massive breakfast (hard life, I know) – I began thinking about mother’s day.
I’m still negotiating the strangeness of not being with my family for these kinds of celebrations. Independence fits with an easy comfort, and I enjoy having my own, separate life for a portion of the year. Right now though I’m anticipating the next holiday interlude back at home, or, rather, back at my original home. It’s not the only one now. Oxford feels more and more like ‘my’ city as the months wind by.
What am I looking forward to back among the hills though? Big meals, laughter, walks, bickering, hanging out clutching mugs of coffee, conversations over wine, charity shop trips, creative ideas, sustained projects, a little bit of nurture. The freeing feeling of not being responsible all the time. Being able to have loooooooong, meandering chats with my mum without having to pick up the phone (which, admittedly, I do all the time here). Spending time in the presence of a close-knit family that I’m overwhelmingly privileged to have, and to be loved by. Access to my full wardrobe probably figures somewhere in there too…
All of this floated through my head as I snuggled under my duvet earlier. I realized that today, of all days, it would be fitting to write about my mum – create some little essay for that intelligent, resilient, witty, empathetic woman.
But rather surprisingly (for me), I have no idea where to begin or what to focus in on - mainly because the field of possibility stretches far beyond view…
I could discuss our shared adoration of vintage dresses and jumble sales, unwrapping the significance of my style heritage and nodding to the power of second hand silk shirts. I could plait together choice anecdotes about her side of the family, discussing each successive generation of mother and daughter – all quiet frustration and flashes of love. I could distill down the tale of how she met my dad, the meeting of the performance poet (him) with the teacher (her) – and how they married after knowing each other for less than a year. I could skim over the challenges my mum has faced: the bereavements, tricky situations, and family illnesses, both physical and mental, that required her to be so very strong in looking after others. And I don’t mean the ‘2D-female-stock-character-on-a-TV-show’ version of ‘strong’, but rather something veined with resilience and true tenacity.
Oh, and I could also relay the irritation/ absolute brilliance of having a mother whose editing skills are second to none, sharp eyes trained on extraneous words and grammatical errors (hi Mum! Am sure you’re going to tell me to correct some of these sentences when you see this!)
Any one of those is an outline that might be worked up into a full picture. But, maybe, actually, this is enough. Rather than expanding any further, I’m going to condense it down - leave this on a quiet note of appreciation. My mum is a fabulous lady. Truly fabulous. I’m lucky to have her. Not everyone has access to stable or supportive parents – and for some, mother’s day is not a time for merriment, but pain and weariness. That makes my heart ache.
For that reason, I’m not going to finish by saying a general Happy Mother’s Day – because it’s not universally applicable, and this Sunday will be different for everyone (besides, it's only a UK-wide thing). But I do want to say it specifically to my mum. Happy Mother’s Day, Polly. You’re ace – and I've got a rather gorgeous seventies coffee pot waiting for you…
I took these photos of my mum in 2013 – when I was still living at home permanently. We tramped up to the bluebell wood behind our house, her resplendent in this glorious green dress. The light was extraordinary. Time always feels suspended when you’re standing among those trees. Nice to capture a snatch of that serenity on camera, and to be able to share it nearly two years later.