Her children arise and call her blessed. (Proverbs 31:28)

I had all but forgotten that Sunday is Mother’s Day. Lockdown restriction, news of the pandemic, worries about the economy… these were the thoughts consuming my mind. I’m grateful to the person who reminded me however, because it’s given me time to pause and think about God’s beautiful gift of mothers.

Perhaps your mom has passed on and this is a sad day for you. Or she may live far away, frail and ageing. A friend’s mother who lives in the UK and suffers from Parkinson’s, has just discovered she has covid-19. Another who lives in Qatar heard this week that her mom, who struggles with dementia, had a very bad fall and had to be rushed to hospital.

Our times are fraught with such fragility and longing. I yearn to be with my daughter Nicole and my mother this Mother’s Day. My mom, although not far away, is in virtual imprisonment in her retirement village, only allowed out for absolute essentials. There’s a gift in these times though, which is that we gain a greater appreciation for those we sometimes take for granted. And mothers (good ones at least) with their constant, selfless loving presence surely top the ‘Taken for Granted’ List.

My mother has forever been the constant in my life. She’s the one who was always at home, ensuring there was food on the table, and taking me to the places I needed to be. As a teenager I gave her a hard time. Argumentative and rebellious (she has a similar streak so maybe bears some of the blame), I hung out with the bad, smoking and partying crowd for a while. My dad used to go to the Cape on a month-long business trip in October/November and I remember our house shaking with quarrels and confrontation in his absence.

If you’d asked me at the age of sixteen if I would one day consider my mom to be my dearest friend, I would have smirked and rolled my eyes and said, ‘no duh!’ or something with equal 80’s teen attitude.

But how things changed. In my mid-20’s when I was a young and inexperienced mother myself, she was the one I would run to for support. I still phone her every now and then to ask for advice (usually on how to make one of her famous dishes that I have a sudden craving for).

This year during lockdown our roles reversed somewhat. Suddenly I was the one doing her shopping and making sure she had food on her table, and going to the places she couldn’t go herself. She did have plenty to say on the matter mind you (fortunately not with quite as much attitude as I’d displayed while living under her roof). Her shopping lists are not simple bullet points, but rather a long, detailed description of what she plans to do with each item. In other words, not simply 1) whole butternut; 2) celery 3) leeks, but rather: ‘If you can get a big butternut then I might make some soup with it, because I really do like it for this time of the year, etc. etc.” It’s very easy to ‘lose’ items in the long paragraphs.

Speaking of soup, on the first cold day of the season, Mom decided it was the perfect time to make Dutch Pea Soup. All well and good in theory, except I had to go to about 5 different shops to find the complex list of ingredients, which included Dutch rook worst and smoked eisbein. Oh dear…I got unsmoked…just not as good (she might have done some eye rolling and muttered ‘duh’ under her breath).

But how I value the time when I drop off her groceries and we spend half an hour chatting through the palisade fence at the retirement village (her not being allowed out and me not being allowed in).

This is the gift of the pandemic—we don’t take a single precious moment for granted anymore.

My dear friends, I hope that you have your own precious memories of your mother. If she is around, take the time to share them with her and let her know how much you value her. If she is no longer with you, take some time this Sunday to remember her, to laugh at the good times, to roll your eyes at the challenging ones and to acknowledge the strong person you are today because of her faithful love.

Blessed lockdown Mother’s Day!