What does Mother’s day mean to you? Is it about you giving to your mother or is it about your children giving to you. Is it about the card bought, or does it mean more if it’s made? Do you expect your children to be good all day and do the chores or just to say “Happy Mother’s day” as they leap onto your bed, invariably earlier in the morning than you would like?
Mother’s day will be special for all of us in our different ways… or will it?
What about those children whose own mother they will not wake up to on Sunday. Those that through no fault of their own, will either have no memory of their mother, have bad memories of their mother, or who would love to be back with their mother when the system says they can’t.
As a child I made the assumption that everyone had a Mum, and as adults I sincerely believe that there is a big section of society that assumes that still. Schools help their children make Mother’s Day cards in the classroom, TV adverts from Marks and Spencers to MoonPig frantically tell you to get prepared, a big day is coming. Facebook walls are plastered with “Happy Mother’s Day” on the Sunday itself. With each passing year it seems to become more prominent. In itself this is not a bad thing but what goes through the mind of a child in care?
Discussions with those who have been in the care system suggest that it is anything from a real non event to a real slap in the face. A nice big dose of ‘Remember your life is different than everybody else’s’. Do you make a card? Will it even get there? Will they care? Do they deserve my card? Do I make one for my foster Mum when the rest of the house is making one? Will my real Mum be sad if I do?
Ian Dickson, former care leaver whose mother was not a central figure in his life described mothers day as “never an important or significant anniversary”. A UK Fostering staff member who having been neglected from birth and never knew her mother, described having little memory of it in retrospect. This in itself says something about their lives.
Jenny Molloy, care leaver and author of ‘Hackney Child’ shared the following:
Mothers Day was always a firm date in our care homes calendar. All the craft materials would be brought out and laid onto a huge table – always reminded me of a Kings table where a huge feast would take place.
We would all have the usual squabbles for the pens, glue etc – and all loved seeing our finished Mothers Day cards pegged up on the string waiting to dry.
As by the second Mothers Day my mum was banned from the kids home – I would wait with such excitement for my next monthly visit home to deliver my card – but as anyone who has parents in active addiction knows – it’s a nerve wracking wait, never knowing what mood you would find.
My mum never really got over us going into Care, so, although the initial reaction to my homemade delight would be met with a low key thanks – the card would inevitably be a source of a violent drunken row later on in the contact visit. I learnt not to make cards, but to buy them, although not for long, as contact thankfully ceased for many years.
There is no ordinary way to experience Mother’s Day or ordinary way to feel when it comes about. Children in care will each have their unique perspective on the day about what it does or does not mean to them. Suffice to say, like much of the life of a child in care, it just might be complicated!