Ever since I became Mama to Sophie-doll, I’ve spent a lot of time asking myself, what it means to be a Mother. And that has left me very conflicted about Mothers’ Day. Because in the strictly common definition of the day, it is a celebration of what is typically socially accepted – children celebrating their mothers.
I think it could and should be so much more! Because motherhood is never just about one person. I could not have become a mother by myself. I could not have learned about motherhood myself. And I was a mother, even before I gave birth to Sophie Rose.
I’m sure that many of you would have seen that we’ve been going through a difficult time and only recently emerged in better shape, and I’ve thought long and hard if I should share about it and decided that, I will. A few weeks back, I miscarried again.
An early miscarriage, but for some reason it felt just as devastating as my previous mid-term loss.
Perhaps it was because I know now how much joy another baby would have brought into our lives, perhaps now I can picture perfectly the wonderful, unique person my baby could have become if he or she had made it.
I often look at Sophie and think – she made me a mother. But truth is, I was already a mother, those two painful years back. From the moment that I knew life was growing in me, I fought for it, yearned for it, fiercely nurtured it, and sought to protect it in any way I knew how.
And now I know so many others who have also lost and continue to wait for the day that they are able to meet their babies face to face. They pick up the pieces and try again, because the promise of that joy and fulfillment is enough for them to put their broken hearts back into place and soldier on. Already they are fighting the battles of parents. Already, they are mothers.
So to all those of you who have lost your angel babies even before you met them for the first time, Mother’s Day is for you, hundreds of times over, along with the rest of us lucky enough to hold our babies in our arms.
And what about those who mother our babies every day, even if they aren’t biologically related to them?
My helper, Yati, is family. She has been living with us for 27 years, and helped to raise me and all my siblings. Endless baths, teeth brushing, cooked meals, good night songs, trips to the playground, in most of my memories, there she is. She gave up her own life, chance at marriage and having her own children to come here and help my parents. Her loyalty is unwavering, and her affection always true.
Now that I have a baby of my own, she is mothering her all over again. Because of her, I am able to leave for work every day with the security and knowledge that my child is well taken care of, well loved and happy. Sophie-doll never cries when I drop her off with Yati, instead she has a beaming smile.
She buys fresh fish for Sophie, makes sure she has a diet with a great variety of veggies and fruits, notes down her milk intake every day, and worries non stop if Sophie has mosquito bites. She sings her to sleep, teaches her to colour and draw and brings her for evening walks every day. She is every day doing what a mother should do, for me.
For Mother’s Day this year, I bought her a Tula Carrier because she has a bad back and aches (can you see those medicated plasters) but she still insists on carrying Sophie, who is already half her height!
She didn’t say it, but I saw how happy she was to carry Sophie in a comfortable carrier of her very own, and not have to worry about damaging mine. I feel so upset when I hear of employers asking for ‘inferior’ quality carriers or slings for their helpers to carry their babies. These people look after our babies every day, their bodies ache from carrying, from housework. And the babies in those carriers are yours!
Her father was a Javanese hunter and a farmer, so I picked a print with tribal-like prints for her and she loved it so much!
Happy Mother’s Day, too, to those who mother our children. Thank you for your sacrifices!
And how could we have become mothers, without our husbands?
I can honestly, sincerely say that K has made me a better mother. Father’s Day is truly underrated, so I’m going to thank you on Mother’s Day too – along with all the other Dads who stepped into Mama’s job when she needed a break or when she just couldn’t be there.
Just as much as I have been there from Day One, making her feeds, changing her diapers, washing her clothes, rocking her to sleep, so has K – as much if not more because his nature is more loving and more patient than mine is.
I hope Sophie-doll is never able to pick who she “loves more” (Jimmy Kimmel, that was a horrible Mother’s Day stunt) because she knows that her parents love her and raise her equally.
So Happy Mother’s Day to all those Dads who make motherhood easier and happier for their wives and step into the role of Mama as easily as they do their Papa roles. You are the rocks upon which we lean when the going gets tough!
And to God-mothers 🙂
You’re somewhere in between a Mom and a Grandparent – torn constantly between spoiling the child and spanking the child and we love you for that! Sophie’s godma – my sister – is able to make her laugh, giggle, whine and dance like I am never able to. I don’t envy this, but feel extra blessed for all these wonderful people who bring out so many different sides to my child. You are mothers, too.
Flowers for Sophie’s Fairy Godmothers for their first Fairy Godmother Day 🙂
And my own sweet Mama and Amah, who are my role models and the mothers I aspire to become.
Mama, you are the one I think of first every time I struggle with Sophie. It is so very hard being so many miles away from you most of the year – I wish that I could just take a 10 minute drive to our old home for a tea, a hug and some of your favourite Marks and Spencer biscuits. That’s the way it has always been – whenever I feel down, or need assurance and every time I need to make a major decision in life, I turn to you. To me, you are the Catholic mother I want to be, leading my children closer to God, steadfast, never wavering.
And my dear Amah, will there ever come a day when I can think of you without crying?
You loved me unconditionally, unreservedly, wholeheartedly and you are the first person I loved back that way too.
I worry one day I will forget the sound of your voice and the stories of your childhood, but now I have my own baby I can tell all those things to because I want her to remember you too and I want her to know how wonderful a great grandmother you would have been. Every week, when we bring her to the columbarium to say hello to you, my heart hurts with the knowledge that you never got to meet her. But I know that you are watching us, watching her, and one day, she will know you too.
And my own Mother’s Day, this year?
Several incredible things happened. 🙂
1) I got to sleep in !
Don’t I look fairly sprightly here? That’s because my amazing husband gave me two wonderful extra hours of sleep on a Sunday morning by entertaining Hurricane Sophie (as you can see, here she is swirling right out of my reach again).
And my Mother’s Day gift? Un un un un unbelievable.
This year’s Mother’s Day’s present surpasses all expectations because 1) I had no expectations for a gift 2) I most definitely did not imagine it would be a fridge 3) I spent three hours running around like a headless chicken getting foster fridges for my frozen goods because we didn’t know that you couldn’t just turn a new one on straight away. Needless to say, I was stunned – like a (defrosting) vegetable. But very very happy. One step closer to becoming a #domesticgoddess (I wish!) Thank you K, Sophie-doll and Benjy, I promise to improve the quality of your meals by simply gazing upon this beauty of an ice box!
But the best present of all?
K wrote a little card on behalf of Sophie-doll and popped it into her cot when she was taking her morning nap, because he knew Class A Control Freak Mama would go in and check on her to make sure she was covered well and sleeping face-off (I know, SIDS chances are low at 13 months but you can never be too careful).
The words in the card were simple, but perfect. And reduced me to a blubbery mess.
I don’t know what I’m going to do the day she gives me a handmade card she writes herself. Probably bawl so hard that the paint on the card runs and cry more because I’ve ruined it.
Oh my chubby bunny, thank you for an unforgettable Mother’s Day!
Hope you all had days as lovely as this too!
The Little Bow Family