Written by Bee Friedmann
It's Mother's Day 2020 and here I sit in our beautiful and closed shop in the Old town of Margate. The sky is blue, the sun is shining – everything looks normal. I'm in sorting out a few bits and bobs.
We are living through an impossible time. I really don’t know if I am coming or going. I haven’t stopped thinking about this for weeks now.
I have a son who lives on the other side of the world and today I wanted to write about being a mother in this time of uncertainty and instability. We were so excited a few weeks ago. Amy and myself were off on a development and sourcing trip to India in April. Plans were being made and the agenda was set. Part of the plan was to celebrate my son’s birthday on 16th April with him and his girlfriend. He has been living in Dubai for 4 years and is now taking some time off in Australia.
My son is everything to me. I am so proud of him. As a high spirited boy, brimming over with with energy, Conor was sometimes a little challenging as a child – school reports came back saying - ‘Conor gets bored easily and Conor could do better’. To me he was always perfect, even if he was not swimming down-stream as the system wanted him to. He was a beautiful, slippery fish – swimming and leaping upstream and I knew in my heart he would shimmer and shine one day.
Mind you I was sometimes a challenging mother. I was a single parent trying to hold it together juggling a business with finding quality time to make memories with my son, it was not easy but we managed. My own mother who I miss deeply lived in South Africa. Every summer holiday we would go there on an adventure. I had a small Fiat that I left there, we would pull off the Ivy that had engulfed her dusty white body, climb in and set off. We stayed where the wind blew us, over hills and mountains, through borders and game parks.
These were pre-internet days. I always had a nose for craft and it became a mission each year to find groups I had heard of, who were working in the middle of nowhere. We would fill up the car until Conor was squashed inside somewhere in the mixture of baskets, carvings and beads. We stopped along the road to give mothers and children lifts and learn about their lives. Conor was always being cuddled by ladies who loved to touch his bright red hair. He was my wing man – we sang loudly to Madonna and REM. We slept in a host of weird and wonderful places, to the sounds of the African Bush.
Once we saw a little boy walking down the road carrying smartly polished shoes. Children in South Africa walk miles to and from school. I asked Conor why he thought the boy was carrying his shoes and Conor’s immediate answer was that the boy wanted to keep them new and smart because they were probably the only pair of shoes he had. I found this sobering and astute coming form an 8 year old who took shoes for granted and would never own just one pair.
Conor has indeed shimmered and shined, he has become an acrobat and a stunt man. Amongst his achievements are being stunt double to one of the biggest Bollywood stars, and spinning from a pole high above the stage of La Perle – a stunning Cirque de Soleil style show in Dubai. I have seen him featured on billboards somersaulting over a car, and watched online when Mercedes showcased him in their series on people who break the mould. I have also witnessed his incredible stage presence, entertaining people from Singapore to Dubai and back to London. He is a committed Vegan and for a sportsman this has been a challenging path. To put it mildly I am a proud mum!
Conor and his girlfriend, Dani are in Australia at the moment, safe on her parents’ beautiful rural property outside Sydney. He is in the fresh air, jogging around farms and vineyards, past sheep and open countryside. I know he is safe and happy but selfishly I still want to reach out and hug him during these unbelievable times.
I want him and his silliness to burst through my door – to be equally angered, irritated and enthralled by his funny, argumentative, know-all personality. Daily we speak via facetime and he sends me silly videos. I am thankful to technology for enabling me to still feel close to him and enable me to see him every day.
I remind myself to take a deep breath and stay positive – I will see him again. I will laugh and argue with him again. To all my fellow mothers out there who’s precious ones are far away from home – let’s all do a little dance around the house tomorrow and remember that we can get through this to the other side.
Thanks to Conor I won’t be entirely alone on Mother’s Day, Ocean who often models our lovely jewellery collections for Artisans & Adventurers has spent the weekend with me. Ocean and Conor were a couple many moons ago when they were still at school. They have remained close and Ocean has also gone on to be a brilliant shining diamond. She is like my daughter! She calls me mum and it makes me burst with joy.
Family are also the people you choose to let into your life and so it wouldn’t feel right not to mention our lovely staff members, past and present, and my brilliant business partner, Amy – all of whom I feel are my family. Thank you guys for being such a great support. I love you all and together we will get through these confusing and challenging times like one big supportive family.