All mothers really want for Mother’s Day is to be mothers

It's all they’ve ever really wanted, and yet with domestic violence now an epidemic and wars still escalating around the world, the question pouring from so many mothers' hearts remains: why is it too much to ask that our children be safe?

WORDS: Mary-Anne O’Connor, Author

From the moment you hold your newborn baby, you feel two things: love and protectiveness. At least that’s the way it was for me, with a big dose of fear thrown in. It’s biological but more so it’s just logical because there are so many things to fear for this tiny person in your arms.

At first, it’s simply a case of having them eat, sleep and thrive. They are so vulnerable and rely on us for everything, and if you were anything like me the fear was all about whether or not you, as a mother, were up to the task of keeping them alive.

Then the toddler years arrive and every possible accident with it. Suddenly we are putting locks on locks and living in terror on losing them in the department store. Driving just became the most serious occupation on earth and don’t even start me on taking them to the beach.

Yet once again, the common denominator when it comes to their safety is you, or your responsible partner should you lucky enough to have one.

Then the school years come along and we have sport and playground battles and self-esteem issues and puberty and…the list goes on when it comes to mothers/parents guiding them along. Keeping them safe. Keeping them alive.

And then, just like that, you have to let them take care of themselves. Emotionally we are still responsible. In a best case scenario they still need us, love us, listen to us as we try to help them navigate life as an adult, but whatever ‘wrapping in cotton wool’ we may have attempted prior has come to an end. It’s up to them now to remain safe. Them and the world.

And that’s when a mother’s fear comes full circle because we lose whatever control of we thought we had.

The news if filled with atrocities: murders, rapes, horrific car accidents, king hits outside nightclubs. The fear is very, very real.

Yet I say all of this as a woman with an equally caring partner who is a wonderful father, a supportive family and a circle of amazing friends. My children are healthy and adjusted too. So many, many reason to have less fear than others.

I don’t live in war. I don’t live with abuse. I don’t have to watch my children live with war or abuse.

So this Mother’s Day my heart goes out to the mothers that do and I ask the question: why is it too much to ask that our children be safe?

There are so many good people in the world, personally I believe most people are good actually, and yet the pain some others can inflict can harm and even kill so many of the innocent.

The fear is ever present for me. Imagine what it is like for the mothers of people in immediate danger.

More and more, I’ve come to the conclusion that it just. Shouldn’t. Be.

No mother should have to live in fear for her child’s safety, not just in an imagined or general sense as I do, but in a very real sense every day. And yet they do.

No father should either, for that matter.

And yet what can be done?

I am glad to see the focus finally shifting to DV as being an epidemic.

I am glad to see people voice their concerns for current wars and the peaceful protests they march in.

Yet it is nowhere near enough and we all know it, for the real question remains: can we ever really protect our children?

Not from everything, no.

However I do believe that talking about these issues, feeling for these mothers, placing our focus on their plight and their children’s plight is the most crucial thing we can do.

So that’s what I would like to give this Mother’s Day: my focus on them.

It may be the smallest of drops in a massive turbulent ocean but if we can all try to change things, even in the tiniest of ways: if we listen, stand up, donate, vote, care…it becomes collective compassion. Hope. Perhaps the best gifts we can give.

Because for them, every day is, and should be, Mother’s Day.

Mary-Anne O’Connor has a combined arts education degree with specialities in environment, music and literature. After a successful copywriting and marketing career she now focuses on writing fiction and non-fiction as well as public speaking. She has been an active supporter of Hornsby Kuringai Women’s Shelter. Mary-Anne lives in a house overlooking her beloved bushland in northern Sydney with her husband Anthony and their two sons Jimmy and Jack. Her latest book is At the Going Down of the Sun, published by Penguin Random House, RRP $34.99.

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