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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Mothering Sunday

Today is Mothering Sunday in the UK. Since I arrived ten days ago, I have seen many signs of what a big holiday this is. All the bakeries encourage you to order your Simnel Cake and nearly every popular musician has a CD of songs with special meaning for your mum. All the shops carry cards and the supermarket is stuffed with all kinds of flowers. People are planning to leave home early in the morning to get to mums in time for Sunday dinner.

The earliest records of a celebration of mothers date back to the ancient annual festivals honoring the maternal goddesses. Rhea, Hera, and Demeter, were favorites of the early Greeks and  the Romans celebrated Cybele during the Hilaria, a three day festival that eventually got so wild that followers of Cybele were banished from Rome.

More Recently Mothering Day in England officially dates back to the 1600's, though many believe it is taken from the celebrations that the early Christians held in honor of the Virgin Mary. It is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of lent and the restrictions usually enforced during lent are relaxed for this day.

Mothers have been important in English history and literature for ages. They have been quite quirky, like mums in Jane Austen, powerful and politically astute like Eleanor of Aquitaine who bore and counseled three kings, and great warriors like Boudicca (pictured right), who started a war with Rome when her daughters were besmirched. And I've read more than one regency romance where the hero is driven by his mother, either to escape her dominance or out of respect and love for her. Regardless if he is the tortured dark loner, the honorable gentleman, or the alpha male who leaps to the rescue, mothers have made their sons into the heroes we love to read about. 

My mother passed on nearly five years ago at the age of eighty. She didn't look a day over sixty (Great genes. I hope I get them:) ). She was an imposing woman. A force to be reckoned with. No one believes she was only five foot three, because her personality was so strong. 

She was a leader in her community. She sat on the city council of our town for many years. She was a founder and president of her sorority's  alumni chapter. She taught sixth grade for fifteen years then counseled middle school students for the same length of time. 

When I was growing up, we fought many times. She was a person who wanted it done her way, or else. And I, especially as a teen, didn't want to do it her way. Mind you, I didn't give my parents many headaches. But my mother taught me to be an independent thinker, even though she didn't much like it when my thoughts were independent of what she thought(lol). But later in adulthood we did come to a level of mutual respect and understanding. By watching her, I learned to go for what I wanted and to not stop until I got it. And so today I am an author who is almost published.

 Widow's Peak my first novel will be released on September 23rd, from The Wild Rose Press. It too is about a medieval mother, Lady Amye Barnard, who finds that after a long widowhood, life still has a few surprises for her. Here's a short excerpt:

Amye noticed the shift in breathing as her charge fell into slumber. She closed her book and quietly withdrew. Once outside she took a deep breath and leaned against the door. Had he called her beautiful? No. Be not foolish. He spoke of the reading.

Pushing aside thoughts of the handsome troubadour, Amye went to check on her household. In the list, Siward had just finished training the garrison. Their bodies, wet from the work of sword play, reminded her of wiping the sweat from Laine’s fevered brow. When she checked with Genevieve, in the kitchen, supper was nearly prepared. She wondered if the soup had been to his liking. A chill wind blew through the courtyard as she passed, and she ordered the braziers filled so he would be warm that night. Try as she might, thoughts of him intruded on her. Where did these feelings come from? I must stop this nonsense this instant.

For more, visit my website at www.hannarhys.com 

Through much of my life, my mantra was "I will never be like my mother", but each day I see that I am getting to be more and more like her. I notice little mannerisms that she used to do or phrases she used creeping into my everyday actions. And at her funeral, dozens of people came up to me and said what an influence she had been on their lives. I realized then, that's how I want to be remembered. As a strong person who has been a good influence on those around her. I may not have helped hundreds of people like my mother, but I will do as much as I can for those who ask.

What is the most valuable thing that your mother taught you? 

Leave a comment and I'll enter you in my Mothering Sunday contest to win this beautiful pewter and mother of pearl pendant on a silver chain from my trip to the UK!


Maureen said...

Happy Mothering Sunday to everyone in the UK. I didn't realize how much I had learned from my mother until I was raising my own children but I think the most important thing my mother taught me was to spend as much time as you can with your children because the time will come when they are not around all the time.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hannah, great and informative post. I did a little research on Mothering Sunday, too, for my church's bulletin (I'm Episcopal and part of the Anglican Communion). Unlike the U.S.'s Mother's Day, Mothering Sunday is much more religious....where people should attend their 'mother church,' instead of the one they may be attending at present. Interesting holiday, with a long history.

My mother taught that it's okay to be selfish once in a while....that's an important lesson women need to learn. Family needs to be first, but women do it all, and once in a while, we just need to do something just for ourselves.

Anna Kathryn

Miriam Newman said...

Hannah, what a nice and thought-provoking post. Like you, I find more and more similarities to my mother in myself as time goes on. It's sometimes a sobering realization, and sometimes quite humorous. Happy Mothering Day to all the Mums!

robynl said...

Happy Mothering Sunday to all!!! The pendant is gorgeous.

Mom passed away over 5 yrs. ago at the age of 73. We had many differences but I believe I was a lot like here also. She taught me to meet obstacles head on; never to shy away. She taught me that faith is so important in one's life and she lived it.

Hanna Rhys Barnes said...

Thanks Anna Kathryn. Being here for the day has been interesting. I went to visit friends in North Wales yesterday to do some castle hopping and they took off right after to go visit their mums.

i totally agree that women need to learn to take better care of themselves. After all who better knows what you need than you.


Hanna Rhys Barnes said...

Hi Miriam,

I know what you mean. Every time I see a new mannerism in the mirror. I always have to ask, "I wonder how long I've been doing that?


Hanna Rhys Barnes said...

Hi Robyn,

My mom was the say way. I have to say, in those head on meetings, Mom was the winner more times than not. lol.


Hanna Rhys Barnes said...

Hi Maureen,

Spending time with family is oh so important. And I'm glad to see that we are getting back around to realizing that after the eighties and nineties. Balance between work and home life has always been a big mantra of mine.


housemouse88 said...

Loved the post and a Happy Mothering Sunday to all. My mother will be 67 her birthday this year. I can honestly say she has taught me to do what you have to do to survive. People might not understand the decisions you are making but you don't need to worry about them. You need to follow your own heart and conscious. Have a great day.

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Happy Mothering Sunday! I think it's a very unique holiday. I've learned about it this year from your informative blog and also another blog site. My mother taught me so many things I can't list only one here so I'll let it go. But one of the most important things about my mom is that she's one of my best friends, my daughter being another. :-)


Virginia said...

Happy Mothering Sunday! This is the first time I have heard about this. I guess it is like Mothers Day is here in the US. I learned a lot from my mother and sometimes I wish I had listen to her more. I never realize how smart my mother was until I was grown and a mother myself. My mother has been gone for many years and I still miss her and she was one smart women. I wish she was with me now so I could tell her so.

Virginia said...

I forgot to mentions that I love the pendent, it is beautiful and I would love to win it.


Paty Jager said...

I lost my mother in 1990 at the age of 54. She fought a short battle with cancer.

But the thing she instilled in me was I could do anything I set my mind to. I use that conviction everyday as I write.

I think it's a testament to mother's all over the world that they have a holiday.

Skhye said...

Thanks for sharing!

robynl said...

Virginia, I too miss my Mom; seems as one will never get over the loss of loved ones.

Kytaira said...

Happy Mothering Sunday to all in the UK! I read a blog earlier about Mothering Day and had to look at the calender and make sure I didn't miss Mother's Day here in the US! I just love hearing about the history behind the traditions. Thanks for all the info!

lynda98662 at yahoo dot com

LuAnn said...

What a pretty necklace! I'm not much of a jewelry person, but I would wear this!

Hanna Rhys Barnes said...

I'm home and I've finally recovered from jetlag. Thank you for all the comments. the winner of the Mother of Pearl Necklace is Paty Jager. Congratulations Paty. I post every month on the 22nd. Keep in touch.