Oxfam is celebrating Mother’s Day in style – with the world’s happiest Mother’s Day card featuring thousands of ‘thanks mum’ style messages illustrated live by artist Lizzie Mary Cullen.
I had the pleasure of going along to the Mother’s Day event’s launch this morning at Westfield London (Shepherd’s Bush) and was mesmerised watching Lizzie Cullen work. Standing in front of a 4 meter wide canvas-covered block of MDF, headphones and toolbelt on she looked like a cute little pixie creating the most magical world out of nothing.
Apparently all of the messages submitted online will be projected onto the canvas, and she’s tasked with bringing them to life. I honestly cannot wait to see the final result.
“Thanks Mum, for giving me my love of good books, tips for defusing tantrums and for your secret turkey gravy recipe!”
My own message was perhaps a bit of a weird one, but not as weird as when I somehow said yes to doing a little Vox Pop, got flustered, and ended up referring to my kids as toddlers. They are in Year 1 and Year 2 and are convinced they are terribly grown up so will probably burn any Mother’s Day card they were ever planning to write me.
Writing my Mother’s Day message got me thinking about what motherhood means to me, and why – of all the things my mum has done for me – books, tantrum-taming and turkey gravy were front of mind.
Before I had kids, I always thought my mum was a little nuts, but now I finally get it. When I had Madeleine it was like suddenly looking at the world through a maddeningly intense magnifying glass.
Previously harmless little twigs were sharp as knives and guaranteed to poke an eye out. If anyone dared walk near my child with a lit cigarette I became an enraged mother bear. I couldn’t watch TV without bursting into tears during every ad break – my empathy for the characters in the fabric softener ads was magnified to such a point where I would well up, and the famously moving Christmas advertisements had me sobbing uncontrollably. Normally, I’m a pretty diplomatic and cheery sort of person. But as a mum, gosh am I hard work!
I’ve worked out what causes the mother bear madness though… small people are relying on me to teach them how to become big people, and actually that is quite terrifying.
For me and them.
Really – every time I do pretty much anything, I’ve got a small person watching or in earshot soaking it up and adding it to their repertoire, using all those titbits as building blocks for the person they will become.
It’s my job to stand back and let my daughter do her own pigtails even though the result isn’t exactly perfect… so she sees how much I value her independence.
It’s my job as a mum to scoop them up and cuddle them when they’re ill, even though getting covered in snot is pretty gross.
It’s my job to pick out the splinters and kiss bobos better when they’ve been climbing trees… and to let them climb those trees in the first place. To step back and let them think up their own games or resolve their own squabbles. To help them understand where food actually comes from (and that fish have heads) so they can live long and healthy lives. To come up with fun ways of learning times tables and number bonds so they can haggle with confidence when they’re travelling the world. To actually try and beat them at chess so that they learn strategy and analytical skills. To help them recognise how they feel the moment before they try and throttle each other so they can learn how to manage anger and tricky situations.
And to capture moments like this so I can hold onto them forever:
My list could go on and on, but there’s a common theme here – my role as a mum is to empower my kids so that they grow to become resourceful, kind, generous, diplomatic and healthy adults.
Enough of my chatter – go and sign that card! Here’s how…
Join together with Oxfam and create the World’s Happiest Mother’s Day Card – a celebration of the amazing role mothers’ play in our lives, in their families and in their communities.
Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Oxfam via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Oxfam.