Last Sunday, people celebrated Mothers’ Day,, honouring the person who birthed them. However, we say that it takes a village to raise a child, so we should also acknowledge all those who had a hand in “mothering” the child.
There are the family members who took them for holidays and housed them during emergencies; aunties and uncles who play the “good cop” to the mother’s “bad cop” rules and regulations. Grandparents who gave up their retirement years to parent their mokos living with them. Grandies who act a bit like drug dealers every time the child visits: they beckon to the child in hushed voices, looking from side to side making sure the mother can’t see and then surreptitiously they pass a roll of bank notes into the child’s palm or in their shirt pocket.
everyone wants to celebrate this day, because they didn’t have a sweet angelic
mother who they want to shower with chocolate and flowers.
Not all mothers are
still living, so Mother’s Day becomes a sad day of remembering - especially if when
she was alive, the children reluctantly dragged themselves together to argue
whose turn it was to make the cup of tea or get the washing in to appease her.
Now she’s gone, they regret the lost opportunities they had to say, “Thanks Mum”.
Similarly, not all
motherhood is crayon drawings on the fridge and special snuggles on the couch
Sometimes being a
mother can be ugly.
It’s wiping up the
explosion of diarrhea that has streaked up the child’s back and over the
neckline onto the car seat and leaked down the legs and onto the car floor on a
hot day on a long drive from home with no tissues cloths to clean it or change
It’s the racing
towards the screams coming from the yard where axes or knives lie in the garden
and blood is pouring from a limb, or bikes lie crumpled wheels spinning and the
child is tangled in barbwire, impaled on wooden spikes how the hell did that
happen? There’s no time to think only act.
It’s the nursing
of the broken heart, that all-encompassing first love that seems so tragic to
them but “that’s life” to you, only to discover it is causing her to self-harm by
cutting and now you’re forever afraid of leaving her alone.
That phone call in
the middle of the day, the one you are prepared for late at night when they go
out on their motorbike - not when you’re at work and they’re supposed to be at
school, and it’s the police saying there’s been an accident with a truck and
Motherhood is also
full of difficult decision-making, creating boundaries and enforcing rules and
regulations to mould a self-reliant, self-confident, independent young being to
survive in the world. One of those hard conversations stems from the reality
that sexual abuse starts more likely at home than from strangers.
I remember making
myself have a conversation with my then five-year-old daughter after a defence
lawyer told me 95 per cent of his rape and other sexual misconduct convicted clients
knew their victims. He said, “warn your daughter
and son about personal significant males in their lives the one’s they trust
before you talk about stranger danger.”
This is easier to
hear than believe, and easier said than done. There are no books on this
subject, there are no chapters in the Plunket book with how to, or what to do
if? or when? scenarios. Where do you
start? And is it wrong to even think it could happen in your family?
I started when my
daughter was a “big schoolgirl” and could go to the toilet by herself. When she
sleeps over at her friends, she can tell them she can bath and shower by herself.
I also told her that if a teacher or friend’s
dad says they must see her privates, it’s not okay. Okay?
What about a
doctor or policeman? Only if Mum is there. Once you get through the young years,
the problem is ongoing and it must be addressed differently as they get older
and become teenagers. Mums must learn to recognise the grooming behaviour of the
males involved with their children, then take the time to listen to and believe
children by acting on their gut feeling when it feels wrong.
With or without
abuse calls, most Mums will always feel guilty, wondering if they could have
Being a Mum is a rollercoaster of highs and lows and a lot of repetition. Mother’s Day should celebrate surviving each year.