Mothering Sunday was traditionally when domestic servants were given the day off to visit their “mother church”, usually the one where they were baptised. Children in service would pick wildflowers on the way to church and fashion them into posies either to present them at church or to give them to their mothers. Well, we have a veritable bouquet of wonderful writing here. Thank you very much to all our contributors who answered the submission call. So please, enjoy our weekend of mother love.
James Fountain’s elegant analysis of motherhood and the many forms it has taken in poetry throughout the ages (On Motherhood) sets the tone appropriately – there is no ‘one size fits all’ to motherhood. Frances Browner’s joyous Ma is a tumbling waterfall of memories, many of which will chime in with our own childhood recollections.
Saturday’s offerings are similarly wide-ranging. Through a deft use of symbol, Getting a Grip by Brindley Hallam Dennis (regular contributor Mike Smith) emphasises that love may literally be hard-fought before we arrive at some kind of accommodation. Terry Barr’s My Mother and Our Animals reinforces touchingly how mothers instil attitudes and perspectives that last a lifetime while Maggie Mackay’s The Look of Her reminds us how much some mothers achieve whilst quietly getting on with the business of being Mum. Rona Fitzgerald in her haunting Mam talks on the inner strength of some mothers, this time focusing on their stoicism in the face of pain.
Sunday’s pieces are a suitably eclectic mix. Joan Leotta’s charming account of a road trip with her mother (Seeing Clearly in the Fog) reminds us that however much we think we know our mothers, there is always something waiting to surprise us, perhaps a penchant for fried catfish or even a realisation that they are our best friends too. The challenges and achievements waiting for any young mother are explored persuasively in Jennifer Watts’ marvellous Motherhood, You Wench. “Cherish the moments that are easy to enjoy, and don’t let the tough ones cast a shadow over the rest” – advice we could all hearken to in these uncertain times. And bringing all of this weekend’s wise words to a close, Sarah Leavesley lulls us with her meditation on motherhood. Each italicised ‘o’ reminiscent of an owl’s eye, In Hollowed Oak shows us how the owl is a fitting symbol for motherhood, ever watchful, ever alert, ready to defend us fiercely to the end.
Thank you again to all our contributors for your wonderful submissions. It really has been a joy to review them all.