Minnie Darke – Gemini with Virgo Rising, Scrabble cutthroat and knitter, lover of books, freshly sharpened pencils and Russian Caravan tea – divides her time between her kitchen table and a rather cute writing studio in the backyard of her home in Hobart, Tasmania.
Words // Minnie Darke
There are gifts that last a very short time, like the expensive Bluetooth headphones you buy as a Christmas gift for your teenage daughter, only to spend Boxing Day trying to locate them somewhere in the sand of a kilometre-long beach. Or the raspberry macaron that you buy for yourself as a little ‘getting through the day’ gift at your local deli, and that you scoff by the time you’ve loaded the rest of the groceries into the back of the Tarago.
Then there are gifts that last a very long time.
I’m not thinking of diamonds, although I expect diamonds are all very nice. Neither am I thinking of electrical goods with particularly prudent extended warranty periods, although I suppose they have their places in people’s hearts, too.
What I’m thinking of is the gift that my mother gave me when I was a born, and that has so far remained utterly and exquisitely untarnished, even though it will be not so very many years until I celebrate the anniversary of my birth with a five and a zero.
The gift was this: my mum really doesn’t give a big rat’s clacker about Mother’s Day*.
You have to understand that my mother likes a gift as much as the next person. In fact, I’d hazard a guess that she likes a gift more than 88.3 per cent of the population. She wraps presents nearly as brilliantly as she makes a bed (we’re talking, here, about a woman who irons doona covers), and she won’t have a bar of any of those new-fangled weddings where people want cash in envelopes. Oh, no. It’s a toaster, or a piece of nice china, or something gorgeous for the linen press, whether you like it or not.
My mumma also loves to receive gifts, the more beautifully wrapped, the better. But for my entire life, she’s treated Mother’s Day as optional. I know that I am under no obligation to call; I don’t have to remember to buy flowers, and I don’t have to spend the dying days of April traipsing around a shopping mall trying to find something she’ll like.
The thing is—I usually do call. Sometimes I take flowers; other times I buy Mum a book, because she loves me to pick books for her. But, if I’ve just totally blown it—if I’m overseas, if I forget, or if my life at the time is the domestic equivalent of a particularly gruesome episode of Survivor—I know that she absolutely, totally and completely will not care. Because she knows I love her, she knows I’m grateful, she knows she’s one of my best friends in the world, and she knows that sometimes life’s hard-e-bloody-nough.
And I’m not sure whether she knows this, or not—but something I’m both happy and proud to hand on to my three beautiful children is a perennial, life-long leave pass from any kind of stress on the second Sunday in May. Although, if anyone feels like popping in with a raspberry macaron, I’m hardly going to turn them away.
*And, since the main character of my novel, Star-crossed, would want us to be clear about this—the founder of Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis, specified that the apostrophe should go before the s, so that that the day was to honour your own, specific mother. Of course, Justine’s favourite cartoon shows the apostrophe after the s, and a child hotly arguing ‘I have two mummies, I know where the apostrophe goes’.