The soul of Mothering Sunday has sprung out of very unusual circumstances. A very long time ago before school was compulsory and social welfare was not even a distant dream … large families struggled to feed an ever increasing number of mouths as mothers gave birth to more and more offspring. It would often be the case that the older children in these households, still very young and vulnerable were sent away into service. It is unimaginable what kind of lives these children endured – to be away from their families, bullied, flogged and constantly shouted at. Working long hours with little sleep … cold and frightened part of the time - with chilblains in the Winter and hands raw from the water and wind.
Once every year on a Sunday these poor little waifs were given a day off so that they could go back to their homes and visit their mothers. A very few were fortunate enough for the cook to give them a small cake or some eggs to take to their mothers but most just took themselves. This time of the year has never produced many flowers but those who could would pick the odd flower and hopefully have a small posy by the time they got home.
Oh how welcome and comforting would be their mother’s embrace … this woman whose face would be one year older and her child trying to scan this picture in front of them for fear of not being able to remember any part of it. What a dreadful ache when it was time to leave and go back from this loving cocoon to the toil and torment.
Now we celebrate our Mothers, often with flowers (usually purchased and not lovingly gathered on a long laborious walk) and sometimes with small gifts, a hug and a kiss.
If you can always remember where this tradition has sprung from and remember only the living can smell the flowers.
My Mothering Sunday gifts ~ some gardening clogs and a bowl of beautiful blue hyacinths …. if only you could smell their sweet scent!