It’s strange how things happen. I was only saying to son, Harry, yesterday how fortunate I was to have the mother that I had in that she was so loving, humane, witty, comforting and understanding about everything.

We were driving round a roundabout when I came out with this utterance which arose as a reaction to hearing a lot of heart breaking stories on radio recently about people whose mothers had disowned them or with whom they simply couldn’t get along for all sorts of complex reasons ranging from clashes over arranged marriages, drug abuse, alcoholism, adoption issues, personality differences …

There was a time when I was foolish enough to think that everyone had a great relationship with their mother but over the years I’ve come to know lots and lots of mothers and daughters who have no connection whatsoever and maybe haven’t spoken to each other for decades.

Then, today, I was rummaging around on my desk and unearthed Mother’s red copybook which contains some English compositions that she wrote in 1934 when she was just 13.


The Red Copy Book


The composition that jumped out at me was this one:


April is the last month of Spring. In it the good qualities of both winter and summer are blended, so helping to make it an ideal month. Hunting is prolonged, and hounds meet during the first week or two. Tennis courts are marked, racquets restrung and clubs open once more.

The trees break into foliage. Primroses, daffodils, violets and anemones bloom in wood and garden. The birds build their nests and pour forth glorious melody.

Little lambs frolic in the fields, while their mothers lie apart, watching them tenderly, and seeing that they come to no harm.

The woods are carpeted with celandines and primroses, while violets peep shyly from among the stronger flowers.

Farmers sow their corn and gardeners sow flower and vegetable seeds, which grow and blossom in due time.

Baby rabbits may be seen in the fields or near their burrows, ready to go indoors at the slightest hint of danger.

Here and there, one may see a squirrel jumping agilely from branch to branch. He has been lured out of his winter home by the glorious sunshine.

Easter generally falls in this month and Easter eggs are displayed in many shop windows in towns and villages.

Easter is seldom in March, and never in May; it is in April, which is a suitable time for festivals, for all of the world is in festive garb.

What struck me about this composition was the extent to which it was so much ‘Mother,’ with her absolute love of nature and wild places as well as her observations about nature’s ways ~ for example, the violets peeping shyly from among the stronger flowers.

It also made me think of how much things have stayed the same since 1935 at some levels – like the ‘festive garb’ of the natural world and the lessons we could all take from nature if we took the time to observe.

Clearly much has changed in Ireland and the world since 1935 but, for me, what feels important tonight, are the continuities and that feeling that somewhere Mother, who died in 2009,  is ‘lying apart,’ watching her little lambs tenderly, seeing that they come to no harm.’

Motherly Love



Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

33 thoughts on “Motherliness”

  1. Nothing can replace “motherly love”…seeing us through the happy and sad times in our lives ..Just knowing that she was there to wipe our tears and sorrows away was always a comfort..I remember those composition books only ours were black and white abstract design also had that measurement on the back for reference. It’s surprising that you found your Moms’ book to be able to read her compostion which shows me where your love for nature comes from ..lucky you to have a swell mom & dad in your live…

    1. Thanks Joni.
      I must say I was a little surprised that she hadn’t shown me the composition book when she was alive. I had read all her later writings as she wrote them. It was wonderful to find the red copy
      Interesting that you can remember yours so well as being black and white.

    1. Hi Christine, it’s wonderful to have her writings from so far back ~ and even further than 13. She was a writer all her life but these early ones are the most precious to me, anyway.

      1. Yes, they are wonderful for you to have. It is funny, after my mom passed I found little notes around her house — could never part with them even grocery lists! On the serious side, she had worked as an editor for a small Army publication, so her writing talents were many. Like you, I had a close relationship and cannot imagine anyone ‘hating’ their mother. Thanks for sharing 🙂

        1. Interesting overlap between our mothers, Christine.
          The shopping lists are very intimate, I think. My mother was a big shopping list person but very often included ‘For Lunch’ and ‘For Tea’ on them which she laughed about, especially when she handed them to us to go off and do the shopping and bring back a ‘surprise.’
          As for bad relationships with one’s mother, it must be hell but they seem pretty common, unfortunately.

          1. Ah! I never thought of the shopping lists as intimate, but you are right! Lists of her favorite foods, my favorite foods, on-sale items. We must count our blessings at having had such wonderful mothers. I am so glad I found your blog!

        2. I can identify with your keeping your Moms’ shopping lists as I have a calendar with her notes on certain days and have kept that plus I still have a blouse, and a beautiful half slip that she loved..oh the memories…

  2. Reblogged this on Perth Words… exploring possibilities. and commented:
    The thought Mum is watching over me – hasn’t ever left me, is what helps me cope with her loss after so many years. My mum was a writer too. I only have copies of scripts we wrote together in my late 20’s and the ticks of approval found later in my 1968 poetry journal. My parents moved houses and countries often because of war, they traveled ‘light’ – how lovely to have such a school book!

      1. Mum wrote a book called the ‘Winds of Change’ which was all about the political struggle in Northern Rhodesia/Zambia. Dad was in the C.I.D. so was a great source of facts. It was never published because the publisher deemed it not to be the right time… I don’t have a copy of her mss – but sincerely wish I had – I’d love to read it.
        Strangely, when I was finishing my uni degree an ex-Commissioner of Police from NR and the same times, asked me to edit the 1st of a trilogy which I did. Unfortunately, publishers were shy of the political situation for him too although it is a fantastic drama. Sadly, he’s passed away now and his wife has 3 books no-one wants to publish although well written and interesting.

    1. Hi Arlene, yes she badly wanted to have a career in writing but World War 2 broke out at a very bad time for her career-wise. However, she did pursue a writing career later in life and had a lot of stuff published.

  3. What a wonderfully poetic and observant girl she was! Her writing was so delightful I read it a number of times. It is not surprising that someone who wrote so tenderly and so beautifully also had a beautiful nature and was a great mother. Lucky girl you were to have had her. And she has passed on her delightful way with words. 🙂

  4. That composition is amazing for a 13-year old. And observant. I’m sure all people brought up in the countryside have far more of an affinity with nature than us townies, but not all can express it as well as this. I wonder if present-day rural children have the same affinity with nature since the invasion of television and more modern communication technology?

    For me the harbinger of Summer is still the first cricket match of the season, the white of the players against the dark green of the grass, three sweaters each and a silent prayer that the hard leather ball will fly in the direction of someone else’s cold hands 🙂

    1. I suspect that kids who are brought up on farms, like Mother was, still have a great affinity with nature. It’s just part of life.
      As for the harbinger of Summer, I love your reference to cricket. For me, I think it’s probably the return of people to Tramore who have caravans here where they spend the Summers. The cararvan parks open around Easter each year.

  5. You were indeed blessed. What a wonderful tribute to your mother. It seems she is where your gift of writing comes from, and love of nature. It is such a blessing to have a loving mother. I lost my mother last year. She was so much like yours it seems from this post. And the same age, she was born I. 1921 also. Big hugs to you Jean. Thanks for this.

  6. What fabulous parents you had, Jean! And you inherited so many wonderful things from them both. Lucky for us, you share your gifts with us…

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