Valuing mothers every single day

An “I love you, mom” from a teenager is sweeter than any chocolate treat.

Mother’s Day is a day that can be full of promise, but doesn’t always turn out exactly as planned. A bit like Christmas Day and St Valentine’s Day, there can be high hopes and expectations that are sometimes dependent on a very personal view of how special occasions should be conducted.

Anything connected to mothering evokes deep feelings and memories of our own mothers and their place and influence in our lives, even if they are no longer with us.

When I was young, Mother’s Day wasn’t celebrated on such a grand scale. There were a few floral cards in the shops with verses about having the best mother in the world. A box of Milk Tray was enough to warm the heart of any mother.

My two youngest sisters decided to break the mould one year baking the most colourful, sickly sweet cake ever. With every hue you could image, it was more reminiscent of a science experiment than an actual cake. I’m sure my mother gulped down a few morsels of the concoction that was created with a lot of love, even if the recipe was a little unusual.

Every mother has waited patiently for the traditional breakfast in bed which can be anything from a slice of cold toast to an amazing effort, complete with a spring blossom in a vase. Children invariably get better at these things as they get older. Girls can be particularly good at picking up the cues about what might be expected, often following a few gentle hints. I have one daughter who thrives on creating a sense of occasion around birthdays and special days. If my sons give me a card, they’ll view that as a huge gesture and wonder what all the fuss is about anyway. 


In The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, a senior demon, Screwtape educates his nephew, Wormwood, a younger and less experienced demon, on the temptations and weaknesses often associated with the human condition. There’s one particular description that always strikes a chord with me. Lewis describes, in his memorable style, a particular type of old woman who is “a positive terror to hostesses and servants”.

The described woman’s weakness lies in her demands that any food served up to her is exactly to her tastes. A regular utterance is “Oh, please, please… all I want is a cup of tea, weak, but not too weak, and the teeniest weeniest bit of really crisp toast”.

I often smile at this vivid portrayal and at how aptly it outlines a type of reaction that we all are a little guilty of. Mother’s Day, a day that’s about celebrating motherhood and thanking mothers for their untiring efforts, can unleash a bit of the diva in even the best of us.

Maybe all the commercialism and hype leading up to the day leads a mother to believe that Mother’s Day should be a wonderful opportunity for her spouse and children to finally recognise and reward her true worth. The disappointment sets in when Mary, up the road, is brought out for Sunday lunch while your breakfast in bed hasn’t let you off the hook when it comes to cooking dinner or doing the household chores.

Like the old woman in The Screwtape Letters, we may bemoan the fact that our family didn’t get it quite right.


I came across a blog page where women posted details of their worst Mother’s Day disasters. Among the tales of forgetful sons and burnt breakfasts was a contribution from one mother who had wanted to enjoy a sleep in, to be taken out for lunch and to have a few hours to herself in the afternoon. Instead, she had to get up early with her two young children, visit her mother-in-law and clean and cook as usual.

However, her husband had presided over the preparation of scrambled eggs and toast and produced a pendant that his wife had admired, while he and the kids wished her a happy Mother’s Day. It occurred to me that perhaps this man wanted to visit his own mother to acknowledge her contribution to his life and that maybe it was a case of seeing the glass as half empty rather than half full. 

I think that, in recent years, I’ve become a little ambivalent about Mother’s Day. Like any mother, I love the chocolates and flowers and the feeling of being appreciated. What means so much more is the little gestures that happen every day of the year, like my three-year-old son presenting me with half an apple because I might be hungry, or a hand-made card from my seven-year-old. An “I love you, mom” from a teenager is sweeter than any chocolate treat.

I believe the small, ongoing signs of love and care mean more to most mothers than the odd expensive offering. Maybe, some of the dashed hopes on what is painted as a special day is fuelled by a general lack of recognition of the valuable role of mothers and all they contribute to their children, their families and the wider society.

By all means, celebrate your mother on Mother’s Day, but maybe a rose in December or an impromptu cup of coffee on a regular day will be a better way of showing a mother that she’s valued, not just on Mother’s Day, but every day.