Sunday, 18 March 2012

Now and Then



It must have been about twenty years ago that I was given this mug. Best Mum in the World it says around the rim. It's chipped now, but still sits beside my desk, holding a selection of working tools. A precious relic, even if my sons, then aged about ten and thirteen, slightly marred things by telling me it was from the dogs.
There are other valued relics in a drawer, cards probably made under a certain duress at playgroup and primary school, later cards with entertaining poems and messages:
We promise we will not fight all day
'day' deleted, 'this morning' inserted.
'promise' deleted and 'try not to' inserted.
Flowers hastily felt-tipped over the deletions.
They were wise even in those early years, not making promises that were well-nigh impossible to keep.

In my own childhood Mothering Sunday started off with a damp fistful of celandines artfully arranged in an eggcup, placed on a breakfast tray with lukewarm tea and burned toast, carried gingerly into my parents' bedroom where my mother waited in trepidation for the whole lot to slide into her lap.

These are the things that I remember most vividly; the hand-made things that take effort and time and thought. These things are so compatible with the early traditions, domestic servants being given a bit of a break in the middle of Lent, the opportunity to go home for a quick visit, taking a few flowers along the way.

Later for me came some beautiful bouquets, thoughtfully, expensively sent - and my subsequent protests against commercialisation of a basically lovely old tradition. (But thank you all the same, my sons.)
Later, for my mother too, came more expensive gifts, meals out and other appreciations of her mothering, but after her death I found a ribbon-tied packet of hand-made cards from me, including a graphic depiction of the Titanic:
'Happy Mother's Day Mummy, and I hope you like this boat'.
She obviously did.

So, Happy Mothers' Day to all mothers and mothers-to-be who have yet to appreciate the joys of the hand-made card, the hand-picked flowers and the soggy breakfast tray.
These are the treasures that will out-live the commercialisation.

11 comments:

Annette said...

Happy Mothers Day! I really enjoyed this post -- so much truth! My daughter says to me often "you don't really like the handmade gifts best, do you?" Yes, I do!

The Elephant's Child said...

We didn't celebrate either Mother's or Father's day. We were told it was useless to try and make up for a year of neglect on one day, and we should appreciate them every day. And indeed, for the most part, did. Just the same, hand made Christmas and Birthday cards were carefully preserved. Handmade is always best.

Molly said...

Oh, I loved this! Especially imagining your mum's expression as she "waited in trepidation for the lukewarm tea and soggy toast to slide into her lap!" I too prefer the hand made cards that took effort,time, thought and some scratching out over the most ornate and gushing Hallmark card! Down with commercialization, Up with hand made!

Relatively Retiring said...

Annette: thank you for commenting. Yes, finding my own preserved cards was especially moving.

Elephant's Child: that seems a rather bleak message, so I'm glad the handmade cards were treasured.

Molly; I find the scratching out and modifications the most telling!
I'm having problems accessing your latest blog posting, which appears on the dashboard, but then can't be enlarged.

Mouse said...

How lovely! Which reminds me that I still have a 'voucher' for tea in bed left from last year's gifts. I must hunt it out and cash it in!

Isabelle said...

I'm disappointed that you're the best Mum in the world. I've been told that I am - do you mean there's competition???

Relatively Retiring said...

Mouse: my younger son does a great line in vouchers, and one of these years I'm going to try to cash them all!

Isabelle: don't worry, it was only the dogs who thought so!

Fire Bird said...

I love that the mug was from the dogs... though it must have been sort of painful/ funny at the time

Relatively Retiring said...

Firebird: my sons have this rather caustic sense of humour. I can't think where it came from!

Leslee said...

"Happy Mother's Day... and I hope you like this boat (the Titanic)" is hilarious! Similar to the well-intentioned breakfast in bed and the mug from the dogs. Sigh. Nobody loves you like your mum.

Last night on the phone my dad told me he found a tape cassette of my mother apparently potty training me and singing to me. I think she'd had an old reel-to-reel tape transferred to cassette tape (no also almost obsolete) many years ago. He's going to try to get it transferred to dvd or uploaded. He didn't play it for me, but I can still hear her voice singing "This Old Man" to me when I was a child (it was also taped at some point).

Anyway, belated Happy Mother's Day!

Relatively Retiring said...

Leslee: oh, what a treasure - what a find. I hope it transfers successfully. The 'apparently potty-training me' sounds intriguing!