Story for the Day: Mothers
The commander watched the celebration in the courtyard from her place at the far wall near the servants quarter of the keep to gain the fullness of the revelry. Since the last time this holiday was marked by her, or that she had been in Frewyn to celebrate its cause, her conversancy of mothers had grown exponentially, whether adding mothers to her acquaintance as Mrs Averleigh, gaining one in Mrs Donnegal, or becoming a mother herself. Though the air and sentiment she held toward such a day had altered, it had only changed enough for her to enjoy the celebration and not enough for her to acclaim cause of it: for those like Kassin, Nerri, and Evalin, the commemoration was a painful reminder of the rejection some children must endure from those who were otherwise predisposed to care for them, and for those like herself, it served as a testament that those with mothers poor in affection held no significance in how their children might have grown. It was a state of half-melancholy and half-laudation, and the commander continually wavered between each. She must feel some joy for seeing Soledhan and Kassin, and she must believe that their happiness had something to do with herself, for though she had birthed one and adopted another, neither was any less her child than the other. When seeing the apparent enjoyment of those who grew without a mother’s care, she was resolved to ignore her more despondent ideas.
She was soon joined by Hathanta, and though hardly a woman himself, the commander believed that he as caretaker and teacher of so many of the keep’s children, had more a right to observe this holiday than anyone of the mothers amongst them. “Now you see the extent of Frewyn imprudence,” she said to him with sparkling eyes. “We have little scruple in enforcing the honouring of mothers but much apprehension when honouring those who do more than what a mother should do.”
Hathanta gave her a timid smile. “I do not need to be honoured for performing the means of my purpose here, Amhadhri,” he said warmly.
“Of course. Yours is all the honour to be given and none to be accepted.”
He nodded, his grey eyes glinting with a healthy pride.
“You have much a right to claim Soledhan as your triumph as I do,” she assured him. “Were it not for your assistance and teachings, I would not have been able to survive the throes of early motherhood.”
Hathanta simpered and folded his arms. “You are thanking me for doing what I am meant to do,” he reminded her.
“I daresay I am.” The commander made a complacent smile and then pulled her mouth down into a familiar frown. “And?” she grunted, imitating the rumbling voice of her mate.
Hathanta laughed and shook his head.
Jaicobh observed his daughter and the priest engaged in their quiet conversation and went to join them. He suspected that this day might give his daughter some discomfort but knew that whatever reservations she could have with regard to her own mother, she could have none with Hathanta: he had cared for his grandchildren so well and was considered part of the family since the day he was conveyed from the islands to perform his duties to them in Frewyn. There could be no mistake as to how important he was to them or how significant his contributions in relation to his daughter and grandchildren were, and he went to him with the object of according him all the appreciation his full heart would allow. To see his family, one he believed might have been lost to him, assisted and cared for in so selfless a manner was more than his sensibilities could endure without correction attention where it was due, and such a holiday was the perfect platform for his simple appreciations.
When Jaicobh approached to give his due thanks, however, Hathanta sought to give him time alone with his daughter and tend to the children. The priest thought the farmer had come to have a private work with the commander on the subject of the day and therefore took his leave of them with a bow and a smile.
“There are those like Kai Linaa who cannot accept compliments,” the commander said, smirking at her father. “And then, there are those who cannot accept humble praise. We have quite a few of both in this family.”
“Aye, darlin’,” Jaicobh mused. “I came to wish you good tidings.” He wrapped his arm around his daughter’s shoulders and drew her close to kiss the side of her head.
“Thank you, father, but you know this is a contrived holiday.”
“Doesn’t mean it’s unnecessary. We should appreciate our Mas every day.”
“I sense the infamous Tyferrim guilt pending,” the commander grumbled. “Hardly fair considering you have at least one hundred years of guilt to disperse to an unsuspecting victim. You’re fortunate I am your daughter and immune to your guilt distribution. If Kai Linaa were here, you should crush her soul with any soliloquies on the poorness of farmers and the agony of hard labour.”
“No, darlin’,” Jaicobh said laughingly. “I meant that sometimes we need a reminder. My Ma, your grandmother Deidra, never liked celebrating this holiday.”
“I suppose that was all Drainas’ doing.”
“Aye,” Jaicobh said with a saddened expression. “Never even brought her flowers or nothin’. Only told her how useless she was for not bein’ able to have babes. And then, I come ‘round and he’s still not happy.”
“One Haanta does once what he cannot do at all,” the commander grinned. “I can understand his frustration.”
“Aye. I took care of that, and then some. But once, when I did bring her flowers for the holiday after Drainas was gone, she said she always felt like a mother even though he had to wait a long time for me to show up. She always wanted to take care of a babe or care for the ones in the Church who needed homes. She was only upset that Drainas kept her from givin’ love to a babe who needed it. Didn’t want no strangers in the house, he said. He tortured my poor mother with his talk.” Jaicobh winced at the memory of hearing his mother’s husband destroy her and flexed his fists when he was made to recall what he had done to silence so cruel a creature. “But,” he said, recollecting himself, “Once I was born, my mother did everythin’ she could to protect me and raise me, and even though I remember her every night, havin’ a day like today is important.”
“You were always rather fond of your holidays,” the commander huffed. “I cannot argue with that sentiment, especially when coming from so ingenuous a father.”
“I know you don’t like this holiday because your mother used to make such a deal of it.”
“It was the insistence upon it that made me abominate it,” she scoffed. “The making of breakfast when we had so little time to make any for ourselves, the demanding of gifts when we had barely any money to make repairs on the house- How disgusting, especially when her object in life was to make you miserable and to sell me off to the highest bidding lord. This day enforces those who would otherwise dislike their mothers for legitimate reasons to dote on them.”
“There’s nothin’ wrong with dotin’, Bou.”
“There is when it is undeserved.”
“You dote on your man enough.”
They exchanged smug smiles, and the commander playfully bumped her should against her father’s. She could not deny how easily she conceded to every one of her mate’s staunch demands, and though such conduct could not be called motherly, it retained the same wantingness to indulge, whether the one being obliged were a petulant giant or a child, both of which at times she considered to be one in the same.