By Lisa Manterfield
Yesterday was Mother’s Day in the U.K.. I know it will have been a very difficult day for many of you. For me, the small upside to living on the opposite side of the world from my mother is that I can cheerfully celebrate her without needing to protect myself from the celebrations swirling around me. Come May 14, Mother’s Day in the U.S., I can keep a low profile without feeling like I’m neglecting her. I’m grateful for that.
During a visit to the U.K. a couple of years ago, I was my Mum’s date at a senior social night she wanted to attend. Aside from the organizer’s son and grandchildren, I was the only person under 70. It was great.
At the event I ran into the mother of an old school friend I haven’t seen or heard from in 20-plus years. When I asked after him, she regaled me with a running inventory of all his successes—his well-paying job, his lovely wife and her lovely job, their lovely house, and, of course, their two amazing children.
“And do you have children?” she asked.
“No,” I told her. “I don’t.”
And I swear to God that was the end of our conversation. No questions about my husband, my work, where I lived, or what I’d done with the last 20 years. Nothing.
I can imagine the conversation she’ll have when she next sees her son.
“I ran into Lisa the other week. She doesn’t have any children. Poor thing.”
My overriding feeling is this: She is a very nice lady, but I’m glad she’s not my mother.
My mother was sad for me that I couldn’t have children, but she’s never made me feel like a failure as a daughter because of it.
I’m honestly not sure what my mother says when people ask her if I have any children. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t drop her eyes from the shame of having to tell people her only daughter is barren. I hope she sees me for all the things I am, including the fact that I’m not too self-important to go with her to a senior social night and sing songs with the old folks.
I hope I give my mother plenty to be proud of, even if I didn’t give her grandchildren.