Mothers' Day

Sunday will be Mother’s Day, when sons and daughters honour their mothers by giving them cards and presents. It was originally an American tradition, not the same as the Christian Mothering Sunday, although they have become synonymous.

Originally Christians returned to their ‘Mother’ Church on the fourth Sunday of Lent to worship together as a family. It was sometimes referred to as Refreshment Sunday because it provided a break from the rigours of Lenten fasting. This evolved into the day when young servants were given a day off to visit their mothers, when they would take flowers and simnel cake, baked by the lady of the house or, more often than not in a big house, by her cook. Simnel cake is a fruit cake layered with marzipan decorated with eleven marzipan eggs to signify the eleven months since the child was last at home. I remember my own mother saying she did this.

The practice died out in the nineteen thirties. It’s revival is attributed by some to the arrival of the American servicemen in the second world war. Surprised to discover we in England did not follow this tradition and to show their appreciation to the families who befriended them when they were so far from their own mothers, they brought them presents on that day. Not to be outdone, local children started doing it too, and so Mother’s Day, as we know it, was born.

I am sure others remember When God Made Mothers, written by Erma Bombeck.

By the time the Lord made mothers, he was into his sixth day of working overtime. An Angel appeared and said, ‘Why are you spending so much time on this one?’
The Lord answered, ‘Have you seen the spec sheet on her? She has to be completely washable but not plastic; have 200 hundred movable parts, all replaceable; run on black coffee and leftovers; have a lap that can hold three children at one time and that disappears when she stands up; have a kiss that can cure anything from a scraped knee to a broken heart, and have six pairs of hands.’
The angel was astounded at the requirements for this one. ‘Six pairs of hands! No way!’
The Lord replied, ‘Oh, it’s not the hands that are the problem, it’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers must have.’
‘And that’s just the standard model?’ the Angel asked.
The Lord nodded in agreement. ‘Yes. One pair of eyes to see through a closed door as she asks her children what they are doing even though she knows already. Another pair in the back of her head are to see what she needs to know even though no one thinks she can. And the third pair are here in front of her head. They are for looking at an errant child and saying that she understands and loves him or her without even saying a single word.’
The Angel tried to stop the Lord. ‘This is too much work for one day. Wait until tomorrow to finish.’
‘But I can’t,’ the Lord protested. ‘I am so close to finishing this creation that is so close to my own heart. She already heals herself when she is sick and can feed a family of six on a pound of mince and can get a nine-year-old to stand in the shower.’
The Angel moved closer and touched the woman. ‘But you have made her soft, Lord.’
‘Yes, she is soft,’ the Lord agreed. ‘But I have also made her tough. You have no idea what she can endure or accomplish.’
‘Will she be able to think?’ asked the inquisitive Angel.
The Lord smiled and replied, ‘Not only will she be able to think, she will be able to reason and negotiate.’
The Angel noticed something and reached out to touch the woman’s cheek. ‘Oops, it looks like you have a leak with this model. I told you, you were trying to put too much into this one.’
‘That is not a leak,’ the Lord objected. ‘That is a tear.’
‘What’s the tear for?’ the Angel asked.
The Lord said, ‘The tear is her way of expressing her joy, her sorrow, her disappointment, her pain, her loneliness, her grief and her pride.’
The Angel was impressed. ‘You are a genius, Lord. You thought of everything. You do all things well. Truly Mothers are amazing.’

Mothers are precious; we do not always appreciate them until they have gone from us. My own mother has been gone for many years but I still miss her.