11 March 2022

Mothering, it's a Doing Word.

Mothering Sunday was a spring festival where Christians would return to their 'mother church' in their home town or village. This year it falls on 27th March, which is the fourth Sunday in Lent, a Christian festival where believers fast in preparation for Easter. Mother's Day has evolved into a secular festival, but its true roots may be the way to make this festival an inclusive celebration of those who have mothered us, whoever they are.

Mother's Day can be difficult for those who have lost a parent, for those who have lost a child or cannot conceive, for single parents, or those who have a painful relationship with their biological mother. It's why greeting cards and lifestyle brands are becoming more sensitive to the feelings of those for whom Mother's Day can be a painful trigger. But this isn't to say that we can't celebrate mothering. If we see mothering as a verb, recognition can be given to all the people who give us unconditional love, nurturing and comfort. Mothering; it's a doing thing.

Believe it or not, the popularity of sending a card on mother's day in the UK did not start by sending a card to one's biological mother. According to the Greeting Card Association, Mother's Day cards only really took off in the UK when American GI's sent them to their landladies who acted as their surrogate mothers whilst here on the British Isles. They were away from home, this was a temporary fix, but the need for mothering can be crucial for those rejected by their families, a constant and caring figure in a hostile environment.

Jung believed that humans are born with an innate capacity to recognise, seek out, and attach to a mother or mother figure to whom we look for safety, care, and protection

Many people are estranged from their mothers, and young people often look to mother figures within their communities. One such hero was trans activist Marsha P Johnson who acted as a mother figure for trans women, drag queens and the homeless youngsters in New York City during the 1970s. Another is Jill Nalder, a woman who supported young men rejected by their families during the AIDS pandemic in the1980s.

"You're taking a place, in a way, of a family member because you become that family together."

To mother is to care, protect and love unconditionally. Mother figures come in many forms and may be found in unexpected places. Whoever fills this human need deserves to be spoilt. It doesn't have to be expensive or a grand gesture. A few loving words written in a beautiful card accompanied by a homemade cake or a bunch of spring flowers all reflect the original spirit of the festival. It's about coming home to the person who makes you feel safe, whoever they are.

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