Today the traditional gift for mothers is one of flowers, perhaps supplemented with a box of chocolates or a scented candle. However, the one present many mums will value above all else – especially this weekend when the clock has left us rubbing our weary eyes – is one that cannot be tied with a bow: a top-up of sleep.
My friend S. is an extremely hands-on granny — she’s a young granny, I hasten to add (who might kill me for using the ‘g’ word!). Nonetheless, there she is with her grandchildren at weekends – a baby and small boy – giving her daughter, J. a break so that J. can….. sleep. In a Mother’s Day testimony, S.’s daughter posted a public message on social media to say: ‘My mum is the bestest mum in the whole wide world, she gives me the greatest gift of all – SLEEP!’ Ring any truth bells?
I know one mother who once did not cancel the babysitter when a night out was postponed at short notice. Instead, the babysitter arrived as planned and mum pretended to leave the house, showering kisses upon her fractious children, only to stealthily return by the back door so she could sneak into her bedroom, lock the door and hide under the duvet at 8pm to sleep the night through. (Don’t worry, the babysitter was in on the game.) And where was dad in all this? For this particular story, I really can’t remember, but from where I’m standing, dads in general seem to have easier access to the sleep bank than mum. It tends to be the mothers for whom an attempt to clock up just a little more time in bed can be an insurmountable obstacle course; it seems to be mums who put that essential life giving force at the very end of a long to-do list.
To all mothers today: may your vases be filled with colourful blooms and your chocolate box overflow such that the lid won’t close, but, above all else, may you be bursting with the energy that can only come from a good night’s sleep. To my own mum – Happy Mother’s Day and I am sorry for all those (many) years of sleep deprivation – C. started it! I don’t know how you did it.
A Mother’s Wave, by Ruth Donald
In her russet anorak
with black fleece lining,
my mothers animated wave
said “I’m delighted to see you,”
but her eyes said, “I’m so tired”
giving, striving, hurrying,