So today is Mother’s Day when we can celebrate and enjoy all that our mothers have done for us … a time to say thank you, and spend time with those special people. But I think it is easy to forget that actually, Mother’s Day can be a particularly difficult day for many people who may find the much publicised demonstrations of other people’s apparently blissful existence just one more reminder that their own lives are less than perfect. We are all guilty to a greater or lesser degree. We tend to be pretty good at posting photos on Facebook or Instagram of the beautiful flowers we received or the happy family gathering we’ve just attended, but are somewhat less inclined to press the “post” button to publicise details of the son who seems to have forgotten that it’s mother’s Day. Facebook and Instagram can present an incredibly one sided, sanitised, but somewhat distorted view of our lives where all the great moments are shared freely, while many of the challenges and disappointments are kept private. Because there are indeed far more appropriate ways in which such emotions can be shared and resolved, and I am not in any way suggesting that we should start moaning on social media. However, I do think there are many reasons why Mother’s Day can actually be a very difficult time for some people. Women who would desperately love to be a mother, but who have not been able to conceive, or mothers who have lost a child. Children whose mother is no longer alive. What do you do on Mother’s Day if you don’t have kids ….. or they have forgotten and not prioritised the day …. and your own mother is not around? Looking at social media on such occasions is not going to help to ease the pain of missing a loved one.
Growing up, I don’t remember Mother’s day being a particularly big deal – I think the rampant commercialism has probably had a part to play in exploiting the occasion. I am now the same age as my mother was when she died of cancer, and even though that was 28 years ago, it remains an incredibly painful reminder that she has not been a part of more than half my life. But what is a real shame is that try as I might, I cannot seem to find a photo of me and her together. There are a few of me with shocking teenage haircuts with the rest of the family and one at my graduation, but none of the shots I would really love to have – of me and her together, doing things, chatting, laughing.
Embarrassing family photo from 1975 in the Lake District
And herein lies the other problem with social media. Great though it is for instantaneous gratification and sharing of the moment, the reality is that in ten years time, it may be impossible to lay your hands on that i phone shot you took on the spur of the moment. Photos, like many other things these days, appear to have become a disposable commodity. We take, we post, we move on. Who knows whether jpegs will be a recognised photo format in ten years time, so even if you can locate that old computer or tablet, you may not be able to do anything with those images.
So what am I saying? Lots of things I guess. Appreciate your Mum, because one day she won’t be here, and then you’d wish you’d done more of the simple stuff. Remember the people who are finding today particularly hard. And get good, professional family photos taken and presented beautifully. Framed on the wall to enjoy or printed in a quality book, but not just saved on a CD or USB stick that you might lose or be unable to access in the future.
Me and my daughter 2015. Photo credit to Alexa Bailey Alexa’s website