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It’s all about mum

By Sheree Hoddinett  

Flowers, perfume and all manner of soppy, heartfelt cards - it’s that time of year again, Mother’s Day. Mark it in your calendar, Sunday May 12 is the day where we celebrate all those who take on a mothering role of some kind, shape or form. This year, the team at The Local News have spent some time reminiscing about our own mums. 


Long before I became a mum to my amazing and spirited young ladies, there was one woman who I looked up to the most and still do to this day, my own beautiful mum. To say I’d be lost without her would be an understatement, especially after some tough times in recent years. My mum was quite young when she and my dad welcomed my brother and then me into the world back in the early 1980s. Determined, strong and selfless are just some of the words I would use to describe the woman I have grown to know in my almost 40 years of life.  


We have shared many special moments, but some of my favourite times are when we go shopping together and then have morning tea and chat, it’s nice being able to have that one-on-one time with my mum. I have understood so much more about my mum and the many sacrifices, choices and decisions she made for us since having my own girls. One thing I always remember mum saying, “I brought you into this world and I can take you out again” and it brings a smile to my face every time I think of it. I can honestly say she is everything I hope to be and more as I continue on my own mothering journey. To me, she is the best mum ever! Love you mum! 


I would like to thank our extremely talented and creative journalist Sheree for again including us and our stories in The Local newspaper. Mothers come in all shapes and sizes, some are quiet and some loud, some demure, some brazen, others ordinary and others famous, some a bit rough around the edges and others quite refined and now some have interesting pronouns, proving that we are not all the same and cannot be put into the same box.  


For some, mothering comes easily and others it’s a struggle – it’s not an easy job, the only payment sometimes being a smile, a hug or an energetic belly laugh and most of the time is quite thankless. Regardless, a mother’s heart holds the essence of a child’s wellbeing. There is no manual to help you be a ‘good parent’, most of us just fumble our way through and hope we have done a good job – only time will tell!  


As a mother there is an overwhelming desire to protect, to want the very best for your child, their welfare, their health, etc, so most of us make sacrifices that will not be understood by our children until they become parents themselves. 


My philosophy as a parent was to provide my children with the skillset to become functioning adults as they venture out on their own journey, to experience the joys and pains of life hoping that they cope regardless of what life throws their way and being there to support their decisions knowing it is their life and not mine, learning and growing through these life experiences. 


My own mother is an extremely intelligent woman with an incredible thirst for knowledge who would have embraced the opportunity to pursue academic options, but instead sacrificed her own dreams to be a mum of four very different humans. As I watch my own mother age, I try to remember the woman who gave her all so that I could become my very best. I wonder if my children look at me and wonder the same thing. It is a reminder to us all that life is short, love those who hold a special place in your heart.  


So for all the women who have passed through your life, that hold that special place, that essence of being a mother in your heart, to you I wish the absolute best and the most beautiful mother’s day, which should be celebrated every day not just one day of the year. 


My mother Doreen Olive Small was born on June 26, 1935. Growing up, I remember my mother for her unwavering Christian values. She was always there to lend a helping hand to those in need and she always put her family first. 


My mother was a strong believer in having faith, especially during tough times. She taught me to never give up and to persist, because in the end, we would always come out on top. And I have seen it play out time and time again. Whenever life throws me a curveball, I think back to my mother's words and find the strength to push through. "If there is a will, there is a way," she used to say. And I am a firm believer in that thanks to her. 


One of my mother's favourite sayings was, "half the things you worry about never happen". And as I look back on my life, I realise how true that statement is. My mother was a force to be reckoned with, but she also had a gentleness about her that made her truly unique. I can't help but smile when I think of her. 


Sadly, I lost my mother on February 24, 2023. But her words and her spirit still live on in me every day. I miss her dearly, but I am forever grateful for the lessons she instilled in me. She will always hold a special place in my heart.


Mum was an incredible woman, a role model for us all. She had strong Christian values, which very much shaped the family. I am sure her early life during the war years made her resilient, independent, highly disciplined and able to withstand every challenge life threw at her. Mum’s perseverance and ability to rise above the challenges was inspirational. Mum had an enormous thirst for learning, a deep enquiring mind with an active interest in world affairs and politics, loved travelling and was even fluent in Māori. She was an avid reader, not ‘Mills and Boon’, but detailed non-fiction texts like the autobiography of Hilary Clinton, a three-inch thick read. She hated being driven and excelled as a backseat driver and constantly counselled me. I think my wife Helen must have learned from her.  


Sunday night was the time to talk, and often we were on the phone for an hour as we talked through everything from what was happening in the garden to the latest with Trump, politics and the weather, but most of all, she was intensely interested in all the family. Mum doted over the grandkids and great grandkids. She was affectionally known as GG by the great grandkids, with handwritten cards and paintings regularly exchanged. She loved their visits and loved to encourage their reading by buying fabulous books with big pictures, often tied back to something Kiwi.  


Over many years, Mum has been active in the community, giving time and doing those small things that make a difference in others’ lives, like having young pregnant mums stay with the family, who were otherwise unloved and on the street. She helped the City Mission, made marmalade, gathered fruit to send to the South Island, was actively involved in Girl Guides, helped struggling young adults with remedial reading and was a guide at the Auckland Museum—a role model for active community life and giving back.  


Mother’s Day has even more meaning to me every year, as my own beautiful mum passed away on Mother’s Day in 2012. I am not fortunate enough to have children, so I can only write as a daughter and remember my mum who was a tough lady and I was scared of her. I learnt very quickly not to tell porkies because you certainly couldn’t pull the wool over mum’s eyes. She had this incredible knack of knowing when you were not being honest and she always knew where you had been without her permission. There wasn’t much she didn’t know - I guess that’s what mums do. 


I learnt some very strong core values from my mum. She taught me that NO was negotiable and I should have trust in my own capabilities and confidence. This value has served me well for the past 60 years. My mum and dad were married for 50 years, so family is everything to us and I miss them both every day. 


I would like to wish all the mums a very Happy Mother’s Day, but most importantly I wish my own mum a very happy heavenly Mother’s Day. Enjoy your time with family on May 12. 


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