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By Crystal Young

Mother tongue

I live in the Winelands! Now, however strange a statement that may sound, you will fully comprehend my sentence once you read the following fact. I am English. Let’s just say that I have a lot of British blood coursing through my veins. Those who have visited the agricultural town of Wellington, will know exactly where I am going with this.

Once the proverbial penny has dropped you shall understand the pickle that I am so often in and may wonder how I landed-up between the ‘sticks’ in the first place … I will leave that story for another time over a steaming cup of English tea.

English idioms have always fascinated me. Unbeknown to many, ‘Mums the word’ is an admonition to keep something quiet, to keep something secret, to remain silent. The oldest known use of the English idiom ‘mums the word’ occurred in 1704.

Shakespeare wrote: … seal up your lips, and give no words but mum.What makes this language even more of a conundrum is that the original term ‘mum’ has absolutely nothing to do with the modern-day word (mother.)

(Mom)ents that matter

In South Africa, during the month of May, we honour maternal bonds and celebrate the influence of mothers in our society. This early Christian festival is known as ‘Mothering Sunday.’ The modern holiday of mothers’ day was however first celebrated in 1908 when Anna Jarvis held a memorial service, three years later after her beloved mother passed away.

Anna was defined by her faith, a woman after God’s own heart. It is said that she valued the symbolism of tangible items and for this reason she described the white carination emblem as: Its whiteness symbolizing the truth, purity and broad-charity of mother love, its fragrance her memory and her prayers.

The Carnation does not drop its petals, but hugs them to its heart as it dies, and so, too mothers hug their children to their hearts, their mother love never dying. When I selected this flower, I was remembering my mother’s bed of white pinks. (Anna Jarvis)

The voice of a mother can never be silenced even when she is long gone.


The word mummer is sometimes explained to derive from the Middle English ‘mum’, meaning silent. Let me briefly explain. From as early as the sixteenth century groups of British locals went from door to door on high days and holidays through the year performing traditional mimes that are often called mummer’s plays. Strictly speaking, if you’re a mummer you’re keeping mum!

I am quite sure you have had enough of my jibber jabber. From this point on, its straight talk. I have two beautiful girls, my youngest is at the potty-training stage while my oldest daughter is finding her feet in Grade 1. The day I became a mother, I knew my world had changed forever. The letter ‘l’ is not found in the word mother, what can be “found” are “mom-ents of truth”. There are moments in my life when I can’t help but think that I am seen but not heard. The same way we observe a mimer but cannot hear them. The truth be told, our voices can never be silenced.

God created a mother so beautifully, that when we hug our children, like a carnation – we hug them to our hearts. Our children may not always listen to us, but they know we will always be there.


A scent has a funny way of bringing a flash of memories back. Being a mother in this fast-paced society that we live in, is by no means a simple task. We often forget that we truly matter and that even the smallest of moments carry memories into eternity. May the fragrance that we leave behind for our children be that of prayer, faith and love. Because in those moments that matter, they will find their mother.

The fruit of Silence is prayer. The fruit of Prayer is faith. The fruit of Faith is love. The fruit of Love is service. The fruit of Service is peace.
Mother Teresa