Mothers – I have been thinking about mine a lot lately. We haven’t always had the closeness we now have to be honest and I have not always been the child she could love and be proud of. Being told recently that she is in early stages of dementia, it’s hard to know that she will slowly slip away in front of our eyes and we need to make the most of what time we have before she forgets us completely. I feel for my sister who gets to watch this process close up. I think it will be much harder for her. I have so many good, fun memories of mum and am thankful those can’t be taken away as her own memory fades.
But some things I know to be true. Mom made a myriad of sacrifices and hard choices for us over the years, often going without herself so we didn’t have to. Sometimes she would tell us she was not hungry so we could have enough to eat and we were too little or selfish to realise the opposite was true – she chose us over herself over and over again. She was never very demonstrative or one to say Ï love you”, but we knew we were loved by the things she did. I loved waking up early on Christmas mornings to find something she had made for us at the end of the our beds – each one as different as we were. She worked long, hard hours to keep us fed and clothed.
Was she perfect? Not by any means – what parent is. Sadly, it only in these later years that I have even tried to see life from her point of view; to notice the struggles and sacrifices it meant for her. It’s only in my adult years that I have even tried to understand her, accept her, love her fiercely. Maybe the change in me is what has changed the way we interact now. She is free with the I love you’s now and the hugs. It’s funny, because I don’t need those things anymore to know she loves me. I just know.
I have avoided Mother’s day for years for one reason or another. It’s a difficult day for many. Being my age, never married and not ever having children is often viewed as being deficient somehow. I am often made to feel like a failure for not ever being able to make the choice to marry or have children. I am repeatedly called Mrs not Miss even though all the forms I fill out clearly say i am single. This one day each year, underlines and amplifies these perceptions of failure even more. Last year I arrived home from visiting mum on Mother’s day and was greeted at the airport by airport staff with a silk rose and cheery “happy mother’s day”. Smile, say thanks and keep moving!
I think being a mother is the hardest job on the planet – it is not a job for the faint-hearted. I have never been brave enough to even contemplate that job, but that does not make me less somehow than those who are mothers. So many around us single, childless folk have no idea how thoughtless many of them are on days like today. They have no clue how many of us ache to belong, be part of a family in some way. I was fortunate enough to have that experience for a couple of years as a sweet young family adopted me as ‘grandma’ until moving interstate. I am forever grateful to them for the privilege and experience of being loved that way.
That said, happy mother’s day moms everywhere and especially to my dear mum.