Friday, May 06, 2011


Dear Mavis,

This Sunday will be your kids' first Mothers Day without you. I know, I know, that Mothers Day is primarily a retailer-generated celebration (buy Mum an expensive present to show you love her!) and therefore not to be taken too seriously, but it is so very all-pervading at the moment. Your poor boys can't help but notice it.

I was looking after your big boy earlier in the week, in between swimming lessons and soccer training, and I suddenly remembered about the Mothers Day Stall at school. See, I've volunteered at that stall in previous years, and I know what happens. All the kids troop down by class and pick out a gift for their mum. I thought to myself that it could be a truly horrible time for your boys, particularly if they weren't prepared for it. You know? Anyway. I dithered, I didn't know what to do but in the end I thought that I ought to say something about it to your big boy.

I approached it delicately, I explained that I knew the stall was going on and that I was worried it might make him feel a bit rotten to suddenly find himself in the middle of this Mothers Day frenzy, particularly if it took him by surprise. I said that sometimes it can help to be prepared, to have a plan. Maybe he'd like to buy a little gift for his aunt or au pair instead, maybe he just needed to arm his mental defences (I'm not sure what that means but it sounds like the sort of thing a boy might get) for what could be a sad time.

He didn't want to discuss it, he really didn't want to. Not that he said that, but the shutters came down and he was deflecting like a force-field. That's fair enough, I reckon. You were a very private person too, when I think about it. (Sometimes I catch a glimpse of him at a certain angle and he looks so much like you that it wallops me.) I backed off immediately. Then I ended up emailing their Dad to confess my meddling. I was concerned I might have made it all worse. For good measure I also told your boy's lovely teacher, and so she had a gentle word to him too. She promised to let your younger boy's teacher know as well, because he might have been in even more difficulties really; the junior grades often make cards and such-like. So I guess we did what we could, to try and smooth their way a little bit.

It's so hard, this first year, isn't it? The path just really can't be smoothed to any great degree. They're probably far too young to even take comfort from well-meant attempts at kindness. They just have to deal with all those horrible firsts in the wake of your death.

The boys are going to take some flowers on Sunday to the tree where your ashes rest. I hope they have a cry and let the sadness out. Meantime, we had your big boy round on Thursday and he was fine and not at all resentful or withholding so that is a relief.

Today was the day of The Stall, and I kept an eye on him. He sat alone while the other kids shopped and he coped, but I thought it looked hard for him. Fortunately their class came in just as the bell rang for recess so it was all over very quickly for him. I hope he put it all behind him with a vigorous game of Four-square.

I'll be thinking of them on Sunday. I'll also be thinking of my Mum, who, like your boys, is walking that rocky path of the First Year.

To make you laugh, I'll just point out that we have to be at soccer at 8.15am on Mothers Day, so you wouldn't have got a luxurious sleep-in if you had still been here.

Caroline x


  1. So hard. But sounds like they have lots of people around who love them...

  2. Stomper, she was lucky to have you as a friend for all that time...and now her boys are lucky that you are still caring for them (and her through them)

  3. Teary eyed here.

    Bless you Stomper.

  4. tears here too.

    ITA with Jodie

    gentle hugs all round.

  5. Bloody first year! So many horrible firsts.

  6. Crying here, so sad, so bloody sad.

    Not fair.

    Not right.

    Poor kids.

    Glad they have you.


  7. Me too, the tears. My Mum's been gone almost twenty years and I still miss her. But Mother's Day isn't nearly as hard as it was those first years, especially as I'm the Mum now...'The deeper sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain..' (Gibran) Yep, we have soccer tomorrow morn too. Somehow life goes on.

  8. Blech. . . .You did the right thing.

    That first year sucks, big time.

    That Mum-shaped hole will never quite heal, just the edges might soften.

    Hugs all round (any chance you could sleep in until 7.45?)

  9. No words. Heartbreaking. Hang in there ~*~Lisa

  10. Crying after reading that. I'm so glad that her boys have you looking out for them.

  11. Poor little souls. And poor Mavis, having to leave them. And how kind you are, thinking about them.

  12. I just think those boys are lucky to have you around. Hope you have a lovely mothers' day....Too bad about the lack of a sleep in!

  13. Blinking back tears. You are an amazing friend.

  14. What a good friend you are.

  15. Big lump in my throat. I agree with Jodie's comment. Wholeheartedly.

  16. Yep, tears from me too, Stomper. Those boys are lucky they've got you on their side. X

  17. Just awful. I remember the first Father's Day after my dad died - the advertising is everywhere, you can't avoid it. It was really hard. But it must be so much harder to be a kid and have to deal with that. It's so hard to know what the right thing is to do, but I agree, those kids are so lucky to have you (and all the rest of their support network) caring for them and looking out for those emotional pitfalls.

    I love Jane's comment. I was just thinking that this morning - that grief can really deepen your emotions, good and bad. I hope there are some deep, positive emotions out there for all of you.

  18. Terrible to cry at work.

    They are so very lucky to have you in their lives.


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