Another year passes and another Mother’s Day sneaks upon me in which I have to ponder who’s going to get my attention first. Is it my Mother or is it my wife for whom her 10-year-old daughter will need some help from Daddy to go out and get something to show her affection? I am still not sure if Mother’s Day is a) A lovely occasion to express love and thanks or b) Over marketed consumerism that puts people under pressure to go out and buy something that simply increases the deforestation across the world. Whatever it is, I am now living that week that many men and women recognise, thinking to myself that I really should get myself into gear, there’s only 2 days left!
So that’s my stress. It’s a common one and I really do feel it. But I only have that stress because I am truly lucky to have a Mum to think about and a wife and daughter too. The kind of thing that you take for granted because you have it. I wonder how many outside of the fostering sector have spent time imagining what it is like for those without a Mother, or those whose complex relationship means that there will be no connection this Sunday.
It’s funny, because in writing this I realise that I don’t recognise that for my wife (coming under the complex relationships section) Mother’s Day represents her being a Mum but does not represent her having a maternal figure in her life, except perhaps for her Gran who is sadly no longer with us.
Just looking within my own immediate family illustrates, that there are so many different realities for people on Mother’s Day. TV and media repeatedly tell us what Mother’s Day should mean with adverts continually prodding us towards what we should buy to make the day so perfect. Subtly impressing that that to be anything other than perfect is non-conformist. What message does a child in care hear when they see these adverts? How will children in care feel this Sunday? Is it a day of sadness that their lives are different from the perceived majority or perhaps a gargantuan slap in the face that their Mum is not there for them in the way they would have wished?
Foster carers are often challenged in recognising the needs of all within their home at the same time. Within the ‘average’ family, Mother’s Day can be a day of going over the top, of children getting excited, of jumping on the bed in the morning with a card, with flowers, perhaps some burnt toast as the children try to make a breakfast presented with shouts of “Happy Mother’s Day”. A foster carer notes that a child in their care can hurt in these very moments and has to balance the needs of their birth children and foster children in a way that allows all to feel understood, appreciated and respected. So when I wake up on Sunday morning and prepare for my daughter to make the day special for my wife, I will think about those families where the day may just be a bit more complex and for those children where the day may just be a bit more painful.