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Our post today is in celebration of Valentine’s Day. However, it is not the usual stuff of Valentine’s Day – the celebration or the hope of romantic love – that sweet sugary marketing hype we have all become used to.

No, today I want to celebrate motherhood. In particular I want to celebrate one very special mother, Cath Fenton. Last week, my middle son, Thomas and I had the privilege of attending the memorial service of his best friend from his early childhood, Louie Tom Fenton, who very tragically died aged 12 years old. He was a remarkable boy and a very loved and loving friend to my own son. However, this post is not in celebration of Louie himself, although he will be in our hearts and our memories forever.

This post is in celebration of his mother Cath. I have known her since the birth of her son 12 1/2 years ago, and I must say I’ve never seen anything but love in her eyes for her two children. Yesterday, at her son’s memorial service, she proved herself to be the bravest and the strongest of women, welcoming her family’s guests to the gathering at which she had put together a deeply moving tribute in memory of her gorgeous boy, Louie.

One of the things that was so remarkable about this memorial ceremony was the intimate knowledge that Cath had of her son’s likes, dislikes, passions and experiences. It shows very clearly the wonderful bond that she had with her son, the time she had devoted to truly getting to know him and the beautiful relationship of love and trust between them. The boy that she portrayed in her celebration of his life was not perfect. He was a loving boy with a zest for life and diverse interests and passions, but he was also a whirlwind, and a boy of many contradictions.

His amazing mother was adamant that she wanted to celebrate everything that her son was and still is – the good, the bad and the downright pain in the ass. There was no attempt to brush anything under the carpet. He was what he was, and Cath would like him to be remembered for the whole and complete person that he became over his twelve and a half years on this earth.

How many of us know our children as well as Cath knew Louie? How many of us really take the time out of our busy lives to get to know our child as a unique person and to accept their quirks and perceived shortcomings as part of what makes them truly unique?

Many years ago, before I had my 3 boys, I was unconvinced that I wanted to be a parent. I asked a friend of mine who had 3 children to convince me why I should choose to start a family. In answer to my question “Why is it that you love your children so much?”, she answered, “Because of who they are.” I didn’t really understand then, but I do now.  Motherhood is about love. We love our babies purely and unconditionally, but sometimes as they grow, we can become pressurized by the demands of life and society to try to mould them to be who we would like them to be, and to try to correct their ‘faults’. I know that I have been guilty of this on occasions, especially with my youngest son who is autistic.

Cath’s public declaration of unconditional love for the whole, complete and challenging person that her son was acted as a sharp reminder to me to love my own children for who they are.

This Valentine’s Day, as I pause to think about Louie Tom Fenton and his Mum, I want to celebrate love – the love of mothers who unselfishly and unconditionally take the time to get to know their children and love them for who they really are.

Louie Fenton was passionate about human rights and animal welfare. He was a vegan. He loved wildlife and nature. It is fitting that his parents have asked for donations to The Sea Life Trust in his memory.  This charity is dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans and the amazing creatures that live in it.

If you feel inspired by this article and wish to give to the Sea Life Trust, you can do so direct at https://www.sealifetrust.org/ or to the same charity in Louie’s memory at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/LouieTomFenton

 

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