Whilst hanging out the laundry yesterday I reflected on how much the family wash had changed. Long gone were the days of tiny pastel baby-grows and socks for feet as soft and sweet-smelling as fruit. At even greater distance was the memory of a line with lingerie or the ‘thrill’ of washing his clothes!
I came across this old etching of mine recently and recognised how far along that washing line I had travelled myself. Certainly long past the time of huge family washes where the output of dirty laundry always threatened the danger of a clean-pants famine, but hopefully not quite yet at the era of sad and grey sensible knickers. Perhaps I have reached a place of wash-equilibrium, a long pause between nappies and incontinence related washing?
Change is mostly recognisable in retrospect, but when you work closely with your daughter as I do, it is often unavoidably obvious. I recently helped my own mother through a medical episode and it made me realise how in this middle part of life the mothering role can be rather tidal, ebbing and flowing with the nurturing and caring being handed back and forth between generations depending on needs and abilities. Then one day, perhaps the tide turns and you are the one caring for your parent, just as happened, in reverse, the first time your own child rescued you by driving out to a rainy airport to collect you from incompetent planning (yes, yes, thank you, I HAVE paid for that chapter a multitude of times!).
No wonder Mother’s Day can be a sentimental battleground, so much time has passed and the baton of care has been exchanged a multitude of times. We are encouraged to part with more hard-earned cash to tangibly demonstrate our love and yet I firmly believe it is the intangible that matters far more. By all means shower your mother with beautiful things, but make sure they are meaningful because it will only be a substitute for the more precious gifts of time and memory.