Rediscovering Mothers’ Day

Chris and his mum.

Life is a roller-coaster or, at least, that’s what the venerable Mr Ronan Keating once told us.

I must admit I’m not a huge fan of the former Boyzone singer’s work – just not my cup of proverbial hot liquid. That said, I must agree with the sentiment of his song.

Life IS a roller-coaster. 

It has ups and downs aplenty, taking you from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.

For me, the lowest of lows would be the death of my mother (some 18 years ago) struck down by cancer.

In addition to pointing out the fairground-style nature of life, Keating’s song gives some seriously sage advice: “Just gotta ride it.”

I couldn’t agree more. 

You see, I firmly believe that once the initial emotional flurry that always surrounds the death of a loved one has calmed, the advice of just getting on with life is some of the best I ever received.

The key is not to forget about the one you lose, but rather to make efforts to move on sufficiently so your existence isn’t defined by grief. It reminds me a little of this old joke:

Man: “Doctor, Doctor I broke my leg in two places.” Doctor: “I’d stop going to those places if I were you!”

There are certain ‘places’, emotionally, that I tend not to visit. Areas I know will only result in my feeling hurt about my mother’s loss – so I’ve stopped going to them.

Yet there are some ‘places’ none of us can really avoid: Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries & the like are all too big to swerve. Like it or not it’s impossible to pass these mile stones without taking stock. They’re like the photo booth on a roller-coaster, where (without asking for it) you’re presented with a snapshot of who’s with you on the ride – and who isn’t.

So it was with Mothers’ Day. Not a festival that, traditionally, I looked forward to.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel mothers do a wonderful job, and as such it’s only right and proper that they are celebrated. I just never wanted to be part of the celebration.

For around half of my life, this event has been an annual reminder of an absence. Rather than a cause for celebration, the day is one where the realization of loss is unavoidable. Totally unavoidable. 

Jealousy is not a character trait I like. It’s certainly not something I’d encourage in my son. Yet, each year, at this time of year, I’ve found myself engulfed by the ‘Green-eyed Monster’. I saw peers, friends and even complete strangers celebrating their own closeness to the woman who brought them into the world and all I’d feel was envy.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want Mothers’ Day banned, limited or restricted in any way. Far from it. All I had was the wish not to see it in the way I do, as a spectator rather than a participant.

Yet there was nothing to be done. No clock to be wound back, no magic lamp to be rubbed or fairy-godmother to correct this wrong. As Ronan knew so well, I only had one course of action available to me: I just gotta ride it.

Recently, however, my view of this once unwelcome time period has changed. With my son’s birth another mother has (of course) entered the frame – his.

My beloved partner now carries the title that means so much – she is “Mummy” in our house. It’s a moniker that she wears very well! In having a son, I can now ‘re-brand’ Mothers Day – as a celebration of the wonderful work of done by my partner – supplanting the previous feeling of being robbed of time with my own mother.

Like coming in from the cold, it’s wonderful to feel involved in this day once again – sharing in the thrill of my loved ones as they celebrate.

It’s not that I’ll forget my own mother on Sunday, I won’t.

Rather I’m happy that this Sunday, on a day I usually associate with rain, I’m expecting to see a rainbow on the horizon.

With love.


The Out Of Depth Dad