S is for Special

Her own mother had passed away and, like me, she had no children of her own. But on a rare ‘dark night of soul’ at a retreat without telephone contact with my own mum, this dear friend mothered me in the special way mothers do. I received an endless outpouring of unconditional gentleness into the early hours, until I didn’t have any tears left.

For years afterwards, I sent this friend a Mother’s Day card to thank her for that night. She was always surprised and touched.
Happy Mother, Happy Children
at Beatons Chester Event 

The habit has continued but with different recipients. It expands my Mothering Sunday into something a little bigger, a little more inclusive and a little less predictable. It gives the day wider arms. Yes, my mum gets her Mother’s Day Card – and perhaps a little book to delight her eyes. And – if my father and I can persuade her not to be ‘up and out’ with all the joy of a gazelle who doesn’t count her eighty−something years – she’ll enjoy breakfast in bed too.  But someone, somewhere else, will also receive a card to thank them for mothering me at some point during the year. Or maybe it’ll be a card to a friend who’s recently lost their mum, or to a single parent dad who’s also mum to his kids…

Maybe it’ll give you an idea to do something similar?

I never get any cards myself, but this year I do feel more like a ‘real’ mum. Because I have acquired a huge winged family. They currently comprise: a charm of twenty−four gold finches; innumerable tits – from ‘Feisty’ (a tiny wizened blue tit) to Tweedle−dum and Tweedle-dee who never feed without each other; two robins (constantly bickering); a pied wagtail; a nuthatch; a pair of chaffinches; a young thrush; a family of blackbirds and an occasional dunnock. Oh yes, and the little vole who helps eat up the crumbs!

There are also other children. They, too, are wild and not designed to be tamed − my creative projects which respond best to being held close, nested in a clear framework to keeps them as safe as possible yet with maximum freedom to fly.

Story-telling in Nature
I try to be a good mother to them. This wonderful observation by Hannah Rachel Bell observing the life of a new-born baby of the Ngarinyin people of Australia reminds me, ‘Touch, smell, the rhythm of the heartbeat, and breathing are considered ‘food’ as necessary for survival as mother’s milk. Through these functions, the baby is attuned to its own humanity, and the rhythm or resonance of its group and culture.* As with real children, closeness is critical.

My project ‘children’ do not honour Mother’s Day. But once they have found their voice and place in the world they occasionally prompt admiration. Then comes the shy blush of delight of a mother who knows that, once seeded, motherhood is inevitable and the sweet pause of acknowledging the creative force which births EVERYTHING.

Every mum, like every child, is special. This month we raise a glass of Prosecco to everyone who’s felt the joy of ‘mothering’ – whether its to the birds, a creative project or a brood of demanding children! Call into your nearest Beatons to find out how you can enjoy a glass of Prosecco with your mum when you book Afternoon Tea.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Liz Darcy Jones
House Poet

*Quoted in ‘Kith, The Riddle of the Childscape’ by Jay Griffiths, Penguin