Here, in Christchurch, it is the day after Mother’s Day. And, in a way, I am glad it is the day after. Mother’s Day is always a bittersweet day for me and, I would say, for one reason or another, it is for most mothers.
This morning, a friend, and fellow mother, came by to bring me some medlars and a jar of feijoa and vanilla jam. I had provided her with the feijoas (pineapple guavas) from my tree and she had produced her culinary wand and turned them into an utterly delicious spread for my toast and bread, scone and bun (penny one).
Over the garden gate, we discussed our Mother’s Day celebrations. My friend started her Mother’s Day with a farewell to her son at the airport. He is off to work in Australia, our big neighbouring country across the Ditch, aka the Tasman Sea. Her Day was bittersweet. She was proud to have a son making his own way in the world, but sad to see him moving abroad.
This is how it is for many of us in New Zealand. Our generation, generations before and those of today, at some time or another, have moved, and continue to move, away from New Zealand. Some call it their OE (overseas experience), some just go. Some return and some don’t. I think, if one lives on an island nation, always facing the sea, it is inevitable, that many of us will, eventually, feel the pull to see what lies over the horizon; to set upon a journey. Recent estimates of the New Zealand diaspora suggest that about 650,000 of us live outside New Zealand, with about half a million of that number living in Australia. Amongst my friends and relations and acquaintances, there is scarcely a single one that is without at least one family member living away from New Zealand. Our families are, as they were from the very beginning of human settlement in New Zealand, often incomplete; separated by oceans and our vast geographic distance from much of the rest of the world. In my own case, my daughter, my parents and my siblings all live in Australia. And, for years, I lived away from New Zealand too.
On Mother’s Day, I spent some of the day, delighting in the Birth Notices in our local paper. Not something I usually do, but I had a little time to twiddle my thumbs, and the notices caught my eye whilst I was twiddling. They caught my eye mostly because of the names; Sophie, Max, Rose, Lily, Emily, Grace ; some of the short, sweet names reminiscent of names of my grandparents’ and great grandparents’ generations. As I read the names, I thought of all these new little ones enjoying their first ever Mother’s Day with their own special Mum. And I wondered, also, where they will all be on Mother’s Day a few decades hence; metaphorically still in their mother’s embrace but, in reality, they may well be far from home. But that is how life goes, with its comings and goings, its arrivals and departures, interspersed with jam and friends and beauty and randomness. Thus it ever was in families and ever will be. At least in this corner of the world. And maybe in yours too.
‘Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow’ Romeo and Juliet ; this is entirely out of context but the words seem right for my post today.