Monday, 15 March 2010

Thank goodness for Aunties....

I have a confession to make: I can't stand Mother's Day.

Ever since my mother died 12 years ago (and then my mother-in-law 2 years later) Mother's Day has had a bittersweet taste for me. I don't like thinking about mothers, because I don't have one, and all the things that you traditionally do on Mother's Day are all the things I can't do with her. (I know I'm not alone in this; my sister also confessed that she feels the same, and I've seen posts by other people whose mums have died which have suggested similar conflicting feelings). Therefore I tend to dismiss it as tacky and commercial, just another holiday dreamed up by card manufacturers and marketers to encourage us to spend money.

I know that I AM a mother now, and that I should be feeling all warm and fuzzy when my children give me cards and flowers, but they aren't really old enough yet (and anyway, Mother's Day is on a different day in the US). And besides, it just reminds me that they don't have any grandmothers, which is a constant source of sadness.

But this year has been different. We have had my husband's Aunt staying for a few days. And, despite the fact that her visit coincided with the worst weather we've had for months (driving rain and howling gales; half of Long Island has suffered from power cuts), it has been wonderful. I've been reminded of what it must be like to have a mum.

She has been a total trouper; baking cookies with the boys, treating us to delicious meals out, offering to babysit so that we could go to the cinema (to see An Education: the best film I've seen in ages and definitely worth the trip). She was there to grab the scooters and provide a dry jumper when Littleboy 2 fell into a freezing duckpond within two hours of her arrival; she has sat through Ice Age AND Ice Age 2 with the Littleboys (and looked as if she were enjoying them); tomorrow she's taking me to a spa for some much-needed beauty treatments.

It has been so valuable for the boys to spend time with her; the closest person they have to a granny. When we come in from preschool, and they are screaming at me simultaneously to take their shoes off, get them a drink and look at something in their schoolbag all before I've got my key in the door, it is such a relief to have someone else there to calm them, help with all the clobber and ask them what they did at school. I think sometimes as a parent I am so caught up in the day to day stresses of Just Managing that I forget to treat my children as what they are: very, very small and vulnerable human beings.

For me, just having someone to speak to who has brought up three children herself and seen it all before is unbelievably helpful. I know not everyone sees eye to eye with their mothers on child-rearing, but at least it's good to have some advice; rather than just winging it as I feel I am doing most of the time.

So I can see why Mother's Day means so much to people - but I think it should be extended, perhaps, to Aunties, Grannies, best friends and all other women who are there for us. Because no matter how much we think we can do it all ourself, there's nothing like a bit of help to make us realise how much we miss it.

22 comments:

Michelloui said...

What a refreshing post. I am so very sad that you lost your mother and mother in law, but I was smiling when I read the parts of this post about your Aunt. She sounds wonderful, exactly what you needed at that moment. How fortunate you are to have her!

TheMadHouse said...

She sounds like a fantastic woman, hold on tight to her. The boys have a wonderful lady in their lives (Wendy who started as our homestart helper) and she is such a wonderful support for me and them. They made her a card and they also made her a present too. I value her as much and if not more than my mum, as she visits because she loves us and not through any kind of family ties.

I understand the fact that mothers day is bittersweet. I feel the same about fathers day, but we dont buy in to the commericalisn. I got handmade cards and mademade flowers and a wonderful lavinder bag made by Maxi too.

NFAH said...

This is beautiful. For those of us without children it's often the same in the other direction, we'd love to be included for our role as Aunties!

Kat said...

I found this through NFAH, who is my kids "Auntie" , since my family moved to the UK, she is the closest thing my kids have to family here and it is nice having someone who I can whine to, even tho she doesn't have kids of her own. The world needs more Aunties.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Hooray for Aunties. How lovely to have someone who can have that role.

My Dad had a Godmother who became our Grandmother (both the 'real' ones not really being up to the job). She was wonderful. We all adored her. Yes, mothers day should be about all those who take on that role. Which leads me to think that the Bosnians have it right with Women's Day - far broader in scope!

Home Office Mum said...

lovely post. And very true. I wish I had what you just described but although my own mother is alive, she lives on the other side of the world so I never see her and even if I do, she is not that type of mother. I crave what you just described

Mud in the City said...

Abso-blinking-lutely. I have a godfather who stands in for a father in my life and is well worth celebrating. Good for auntie!

Mwa said...

You're absolutely right. I'm not into the holidays etc either, but I do believe in honouring those who love and help us.
(That sounded too soppy - you know what I mean.)

Nota Bene said...

Mothers Day can be a challenge...glad you have an Auntie in Law to help at the mo

Calif Lorna said...

I feel exactly the same about Father's Day. I dread the run up to these days when the shops have huge signs in their windows and your loss suddenly hits you.

I'm so glad it's been more positive for you this year though, sounds like you've had a such a lovely time. Wonderful for your boys too.

Expat mum said...

So glad you're having a nice time with her.
My kids' school used to have a "Grandparents Day" but so many of the kids' grandparents were either thousands of miles away or deceased, that it is now "G. Parents and Special Friends Day". My little guy takes our next door neighbour.

Tanya (Bump2Basics) said...

So pleased to hear that you discovered some wisdom and support through your Aunt in the absence of your mothers and thus felt more of a connect with Mother's Day this year. She should be celebrated!

I really enjoy your blog and get a kick out of our flipped circumstances so have given you a Happiness Award on my blog. Feel free to pass it on or just know that your writing gives me a lift :)

Knackered Mother said...

Auntie sat through Ice Age 1 & 2?! Worth her weight in gold, obviously. Days like MD must highlight a loss, hugs x

nappy valley girl said...

Michelloui - yes, fortunate indeed.
The MadHouse - Wendy sounds great, and it just goes to show it doesn't have to be a relative...
NFAH - you're right. I have another friend in the UK who doesn't have kids and is brilliant with the boys - I hope they make a difference to her life too.
Kat - Definitely. It must be so helpful to have her around.
BritinBosnia - I agree, the Bosnians are on to something there....
HomeOfficeMum - I'm sorry your mum is so far away - and yes, not all mums are that sort. I do hope I can be that sort of mum/auntie when my children are older...
Mud - I am very glad to hear it...x

nappy valley girl said...

Mwa - not soppy at all and I do know.
NB - she has left now but it was wonderful.
Calif Lorna - Father's day must be equally tough - and they make such a big deal of it here too...
ExpatMum - that is a great idea. I have no idea who the boys would take as sadly Auntie does not live here - maybe our landlady!
Tanya - thank you, and I'm so grateful for the award.
Knackered Mother - I forgot to mention she also bought us delicious wine and sat through a puppet show of The Very Hungry Caterpillar!

Metropolitan Mum said...

I am sorry to learn that you have lost your mum so early.

My mum and I don't have any contact anymore, and this year was the first time I really enjoyed mother's day. Having my daughter is making so many things so much better for me. I hope that you will enjoy a lot of mother's days to come with your family.
(Wow, that all sounds terribly clumsy. Sorry.)

angelsandurchinsblog said...

Your aunt sounds like she should write a handbook on being fabulous. Lucky you, and the boys, having her, but so sorry that it brought into focus the things you don't have with your mother no longer being here. I can see why you'd dread Mothering Sunday. Your post has made me realise why it's so important to treasure mum/granny; so often heroines, but so frequently unsung until it's too late. Thank you for a lovely post.

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

I quite agree. My sister is unmarried & moved back from Canada just so she cd be a proper auntie & see her nieces & nephews grow up & get to tknow them. It's invalubale to her 7 great for the kids too.
Your aunt sounds lovely, I'm gla d you had that time with her.

Melanie said...

Reading your post... my eyes are stinging. I lost my mum seven years ago this coming December and every time I think of her I get a lump in my throat. Now that I'm expecting my first child her absence is more acutely felt.

I too have mixed feelings about Mother's day but you are so right. Aunties, girlfriends, the nice old lady that lives across the road... they are all mums when they extend to us their kindness and love.

Thanks for helping me see this from a different point of view.

Mx

p.s. I still owe you an email :-)

nappy valley girl said...

MetMum - so sorry to hear you don't have contact with your mum. That must be hard.

angels and urchins - you're welcome. Yes, our auntie in law is fabulous....sadly she lives in London, but we're hoping to entice her out her here again sometime.

PLIT - How great - I think it's really important to have a relationship with nieces and nephews.

Melanie- I am so sorry to hear about your mum. Having a baby without the support of your mother is hard - I've been there. Make sure you have other people around who are there for you, if you can.

A Confused Take That Fan said...

Wow, what an amazing Aunt. Agreed that you do forget in day to day that your little people are just vulnerable human beings who are learning all the time. I am lucky to have a mum, but she lives hundreds of miles away and the visits are short and chaotic. Never seems to be time for baking, or watching DVDs.
Back to your Aunt, Is she available for hire?

Muddling Along Mummy said...

I guess this is why international Women's day is gaining in popularity - to celebrate all the great women in our lives