Leona O'Neill: Let's hear it for mums everywhere this Mother's Day
It's Mother's Day on Sunday and, as Leona O'Neill explains, it's important that we show our appreciation for their love, support and hard work – especially during the ongoing pandemic which has put so much strain on so many families...
BEING a mother is probably the hardest job any of us women will ever have to do. Being a mother in the middle of a pandemic – which demands that we homeschool, keep our own jobs going, make sure the family are all safe and well, and keep everyone including ourselves sane while doing it all – is an epic ask and epic task. And that's why we should all be celebrated this coming Mother's Day.
Being a mother is totally unpaid work. Efforts often times go completely unnoticed and unappreciated. We get no holidays. It's a lifetime commitment that you sign without knowing what the future will bring, and there's no backing out of it.
Being a mother is akin sometimes to being on a rollercoaster: it is the most amazing, yet terrifying thing you will ever do. There are days when you will be plummeting downhill at high speed, screaming and crying in sheer terror, other days you'll be laughing your head off at the sheer joy and madness of it all. There are days you will be completely frazzled by it all, and others when you'll be left thinking you are the greatest mother in all the land because you've overcome some manner of challenge, or something went well.
It's being different things to different people, big and small, and it's embracing the different stages because that's about all you can do. It's pacing the floor all night with a colicy baby. It's keeping kamikaze-style toddlers safe. It's being there with a big, warm, comforting hug when things aren't going so well. It's holding little hands in yours and telling little people things will be alright and that you're there. It's listening when your teenager pours their heart out and asks you for help. It's being a strict no-nonsense rule enforcer sheriff one minute and a gentle smile and hug giver the next. It's being up all night with a sick child and all the glitz, glamour and puke that goes with it.
Being a mother is trying to stay sane and steer the ship when all around you is descending into total chaos. It's fighting your child's corner because there's no one else who can. It's holding everything together when life throws all it's got at you, particularly in the last year of Hell.
Being a mum is basically being a professional Olympic-standard worrier. It's being exhausted and exhilarated, scared and fierce, happy and heartbroken all within the space of one day. It's a rollercoaster of emotions and none of us would change it for the world.
For me, Mother's Day is a chance to tell my Mum how much she means to me. She is the woman who taught me to be strong, taught me that there's no challenge that can't be overcome, that mothers can have a career and raise kids, that tea and a good laugh sorts everything and that nothing in life is impossible.
My Mum is unbreakable, unshakeable and unshockable. She is the type of woman who has fought cancer through a pandemic and stayed positive. She's the type of woman who has fixed tumble dryers herself, sawed big branches off trees, fixed fences and plumbing and is neither a stranger to a car engine or bank reconciliation software on a computer.
In her handbag she carries a screwdriver, biscuits, a calculator, miraculous medals and a lipstick – everything your modern day female MacGyver could possibly need for every single eventuality.
My Mum takes after her Mum, who raised eight children while running a Post Office and a farm in Donegal in the 1940s and 50s. She worked hard, she baked beautifully, she ran after kids, she delivered news from battlefields and far flung places, taking to the roads at all hours of the day and night on her bike. She too was a strong woman who loved to laugh. She lived until she was 102.
All of us will leave our own stories with our kids of how we dealt with this madness that parenting can be at times. Let's leave good memories.
Happy Mother's Day to you, I hope you have a good one. For those missing their Mums today, I send a huge hug and the hope that your memories will give you comfort today.