I send out a warm Mother’s Day wish for my mum to be blessed with genuine pride in having raised three awesome men. I admire the example of care she set in her nursing work, especially with the elderly. I saw Mum argue the case for patients to be treated with the utmost dignity and respect when the frailty of the aged patients prevented them from advocating for themselves.
I hold in mind the times Mum scrapped it out with management when they screwed down staff terms and conditions. Mum wasn’t without fear when she confronted managers, yet she demonstrated to me that she would not bend on her deeply held values of equality and the dignity of people. And, sometimes she scrapped it out with my brothers and I, contending with being the only female in a household of men who never learnt to put the toilet seat down – which was probably the least thing to test her patience.
Mum held a conviction that it was important to create confident independence for her boys to make their way in the world… to be able to cook a decent meal, wash and iron, scrub a toilet (you are never really cleaning until your elbows are wet), and make a bed that would pass inspection from a hospital matron.
Mum isn’t tall but her stature rose to scary proportions when someone ruffled her belief in playing nice. Sometimes it was us boys wrestling too vigorously and she would wield an authoritarian glare that commanded us to cease hostilities. And other times her softness and affection were demonstrated in the simplest of gestures. Even at 45 I still go back to my childhood and recall the settling touch of mum rubbing the back of my small hand as I fell asleep.
I am proud to claim her as my mum. And, I would love to express my own love for Mum by sharing a Mother’s Day lunch with her and my girls.
Yet, another cost of separation is that my daughters are with their mum for Mother’s Day (and rightly so), however, it means that their nan is not likely any time soon to share this day of gratitude with her granddaughters.
So while I am aware of the immense gratitude I have for Mum being my childhood guide, cook, coach, driver, confidant, bodyguard, cleaner and stoic supporter, I am also aware that I ought to set my daughters up to express their gratitude to their own mum with a gift.
Gift-giving is not a natural part of my makeup. I prefer to express affection by word or deed. And, in guiding my daughters’ search for a gift for their mum, I realised there aren’t any protocols or textbooks for this situation. When exploring various gift shops with my children the voice in my head started to ponder a few challenges that might play out for some single dads.
How much should we spend? What does it take to navigate past the animosity, despair and grief of a Family Court tussle to set your children up to gift their mum? When does the wretched frustration of lack of time with your children ease to graciously set up the kids to be with mum on Mother’s Day, when they would otherwise have been in your care? And, if the children don’t spend time with their mum, can you leave the gifts they crafted at school safe and sound in their school bag so that the gift can make its way to mum?
Ultimately, if these questions are real for you, I believe that the answers should be that you do all you can for your children to witness you being a gracious, kind and respectful dad. Every child of separated parents should be able to look up to their dad for courageously moving beyond any ill-feeling to do something generous for his children.
To all single dads, please enjoy a Mother’s Day of being true to your children.
Photo by Iuliyan Metodiev.