Mother’s Day Love @ Refugee Women’s Centre
Recent Volunteers at the RWC, Paddy gathers thoughts and reflections on motherhood, mothering and displacement. Drawing words from poignant poems, from experience and of course from women who are also Mothers. It is a day to reflect, celebrate and give thanks to Mothers & the act of Mothering that happens in many forms. The images are from a card making workshop in anticipation of Mother's Day hosted in the sports hall in Grande-Synthe, which is currently sheltering families.
So how dare you mock your mother when she opens her mouth and broken English spills out. Her accent is thick like honey, hold it with your life, it's the only thing she has left from home. Don't stomp on that richness, instead hang it up on the walls of museums next to Dali and Van Gogh Her life is brilliant and tragic. Kiss the side of her tender cheek. She already knows what it sounds like to have an entire nation laugh when she speaks. She's more than our punctuation and language. We might be able to take pictures and write stories, but she made an entire world for herself. How's that for art
(Excerpt from rupi kaur’s ‘broken english’ in ‘the sun and her flowers’, 2017 )
Mother’s Day isn’t celebrated by everybody but for those that do it is seen as a day to celebrate the role of mothers in the family and in society. While progress is being made as to what that role should be and it is more recognised that ‘women’ is not synonymous with ‘mother’, there’s no denying that some women being mothers is essential and that it’s necessity spans the globe. Even in my own childless-by-choice home, whole worlds of motherhood live. The modest bookcase holds memories and reflections and stories and images of it without any conscious effort to collect; some painful, some joyful, some complex, some simple, some harrowing, some comforting, some telling stories of what it means to be somewhere else.
We came from our own country in a red room
which fell through the fields, our mother singing
our father’s name to the turn of the wheels.
My brothers cried, one of them bawling, Home,
Home, as the miles rushed back to the city,
the street, the house, the vacant rooms
where we didn’t live any more. I stared
at the eyes of a blind toy, holding its paw
( Excerpt from Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘Originally’ in ‘new selected poems 1984-2004’, 2004, p.65. )
I asked some Mums I know, what does it mean to be a mum? One said:
“Being a mum is the best thing ever. It gives you perspective and allows you to focus on other people rather than yourself. Their joys are infectious and they take you into another world which is simpler and happier. That’s the good news. The downside is that you love them more than you knew you could so if you’re me that means you worry about their safety and their happiness every bloody minute! The best and worst experience ever.”
Another, “It’s probably the hardest job you will ever do but the most rewarding one” and someone else, that “it is like being in a marathon that you haven’t trained for. Just when you think you’re never going to make it, something happens to remind you that you’re so bloody lucky to even be part of the race and your heart could literally explode out of your chest.”
This joy and love and worry and job and reward and heart exploding love don’t disappear through invisible borders, jagged fences, cold walls, and treacherous waters. It remains, here, in Calais and Dunkirk. We see mothers do their utmost for their children in what are dire and desperate circumstances. We see women without their loved ones. We see women take on a mothering role to the many who are here, unaccompanied On Mother’s Day we will be celebrating with the families, women, and children, some who will be without those who call them ‘Mum’, some who will be without those that they call ‘Mum’, some who will be with those who temporarily act as Mum, and many who will be without anyone.
To them all: we see you and we celebrate you.
If you would like to support us in this celebration or our ongoing work, then we accept and greatly appreciate donations. This enables us to continue to respond to emergency requirements, to deliver activities for children and women, to travel to support all families, and much more.