Thinking about mothers on International Women's Day
This week, intoxicated by the sense of spring in the air, I tweeted this photo of primroses. I love spring. I love its sense of expectation and anticipation, the gleam of celandines among green leaves and the way that primroses unfurl on the roadside ditches behind the dead, curling tendrils of last year's briars.
When I was a child my favourite season was autumn. Spring was my mother's. I asked her why once and she told me that she loved its quiet promise of renewal and growth. I'd forgotten that conversation when I tweeted the photo. But the response to my tweet brought it back to me. Because so many of the replies I got were about mothers.
Here's a typical example: -
'Lovely - not out here yet - always remember being little girl picking them for Mam.'
It's touching and fascinating to see how many women share the same memories of their mothers. But the response that touched me most was a series of Direct messages from a man. I've never met him and he'd never contacted me before.
Here's what he said:-
'Hi felicity that was the first image I saw of the primrose this year its a good sign. Immediately thought of my mother ... She was a national school teacher all her life died 2008. On my birthcert it says she's a housewife as she was forced to quit her job 58 irl ... I think its terrible she was a writer poet musician storyteller historian homemaker choirmistress educator mother a woman's woman.... '
He went on to describe his own work as a creative artist, how he's recently felt frustrated, excited and full of anticipation as a current project nears completion. His message ended with renewed commitment to getting his work done.
Reading what he wrote I was moved to tears. In 1940s Ireland my own mother had to quit a job she loved when she married and became a housewife. She too was a woman's woman, a thinker who'd wanted to become a journalist, and a storyteller who'd dreamed of being a playwright. She had a happy marriage and raised five children. She believed, as I do, in the value of a housewife's skills. But she never fulfilled those personal dreams.
Looking back, I know that the love of spring and its promise of renewal was one of her many gifts to me, one that I need to grow into and didn't really recognise until long after she was dead.
I know too that without her quiet, dogged support I'd never have become a writer.
So on International Women's Day I thought I'd write this.