Sunday, 12 May 2013

Mother's Day, everywhere else

Today it's mother's day, everywhere except here in the UK. All my American friends are talking about it on Facebook, honouring their mothers.

Since 1996, I have pretty much ignored Mother's Day. I never once went to my mother's grave to put flowers there, not on Mother's Day, not on any other day. My father's mother, my gran, demanded gifts/gratitude on Mother's Day and I would usually indulge her. But my own mother, I didn't see any point in marking that day.

My mother, long before me
Frankly, I still don't - after all, she's not around - but so many of my friends' Facebook comments made me think. People thanking their mums for love, support, patience. Not things I received much of from mine; and that's not a bitter comment, because I loved her to death, but a simple truth.

My mother wasn't willing to be a mum. It simply was not what she wanted out of life.

Her idea of living well was to be free - and a mother is forever (or at least for 16+ years) bound to her children. She felt caged. She didn't embrace the idea of loving, nurturing, supporting these needy beings that had entered her world; our needs were a burden to her, dragging her down, holding her back. I was very self-sufficient and independent by a very young age, because she encouraged that: it meant that our needs suffocated her less.

Because of us, her work life suffered. We sometimes kept her from being able to go to evening events. Or we got sick and she couldn't go to work. Work - teaching music - was what her life and ambition was about. If we wanted love and attention, we needed to enter her world: once I was old enough to learn to play, she took an active interest in me. I was never enthusiastic about the music, but I was desperate for her presence and her approval... perhaps more so than my sister was, who was content being more or less ignored by her and instead forged a stronger relationship with our father.

I have always said I didn't want children. Mostly that's because I was frightened I might react in a similar way to the incessant needs a child hangs onto you with: that I'd flee, need to get away, the way my mum did into her work. I've come a long way from that place; even though at some level the fear is still there, I don't reject children any more. Three reasons for that:

  • I have been completely changed on the inside since becoming a Christian and I'm simply not who I was. Her upbringing of me doesn't define me now.
  • If God gives us children, I don't have to rely on my own strength, which I know won't be enough. I have access to all the strength I need by leaning into Him. My mother never had that.
  • I'm not on my own, and I'm not in an abusive relationship like she was. I have a loving, capable, supportive husband - and with him by my side, I can just begin to imagine motherhood.


  1. Hey Sunny!
    I remember you once telling me you didn't want children, and someone said "wait til you find a man and then you will" and I was surprised that you didn't because you seemed like you would be such a nice Mum!
    You are right, even the most "natural mother's" need help from God. I sure know I do! It's not easy all the time, but is lovely and rewarding - often!
    Love Pippa x

  2. "With God nothing is impossible."

    This is beautiful, Sunny, in all its raw honesty and broken beauty.

    Love your new last name, "Willdig" and all it symbolizes. May the Lord give your treasures out of darkness and you find joy in your husband's love and care.



Thanks so much for sharing!