Today is Mother’s Day in the United Kingdom.
Did I send my mother a card? Did I arrange for flowers to be delivered? Or chocolates?
No, I didn’t. Sadder than that, my mother didn’t expect me to, either. In nine years of living here, I’m not sure I ever have managed such a simple thing.
It’s not that I don’t love my mother, you understand. I adore her. It’s simply that Mother’s Day in the UK is on a different day to the American equivalent. And since I don’t have a UK diary, I have no way of knowing when it’s coming – until I see lots of messages on Facebook and twitter, by which stage it is too late to do anything other than make an apologetic phone call.
The news that I forgot again has hit me much harder this year, though. With my novelist’s nose for overwrought metaphor, my failure to remember Mother’s Day stands as sorry testament to the gulf that lies between where I came from and where I live now. My parents have been such rocks for me this year. They have given me boundless support through the most difficult twelve months of my life. They have suffered – more, I suspect, than I will ever know – through my protracted and painful divorce. They have been there to pick me up and brush me off when things have really gotten rough (and boy, did things get rough.) They have not judged me when I have made mistakes. Their love has been steady, and constant, and strong. And utterly humbling.
I’m a parent. And I get it – this is what parents do. We would lie down in front of a train for our children. But today’s failure to say thank you for all that my mother has done, after the year we have all gone through, has left me rather sad. We spoke on the telephone a little while ago – of course, she couldn’t care less about the lack of a card or flowers, and had no time for my abject apologies. She expects no fanfare or effusive displays of thanks on this particular day (or any other.) She knows that I love her, and that my children love her. All she cares about is that we are well. She just quietly gets on with her job – ferociously loving us from afar and worrying about us all – with a quiet determination that still leaves me awestruck.
Thanks, Mum. You absolute beauty.