I didn’t really give too much thought to today, before it arrived that is. I’d sent the obligatory card to Mum, I’d invited my mother-in-law round for Sunday lunch with my grandmother-in-law and other family members. I’d ordered a gammon joint from our fabulous butcher and hubby popped to the supermarket with a list of the required vegetables and nibbles. All sorted, I thought. Easy.
Then today began and it has unexpectedly hit me hard. I have had so many lovely messages from friends telling me they are thinking of me and willing me to be strong. Messages from friends who have lost babies, sending me love. Messages from friends who have recently lost their mums. Messages from my best friends telling me such lovely things – things they must think I need to hear. I have had messages from other friends, and friends of friends. Text messages from business acquaintances, who have taken time out of their own Mother’s Days to let me know they are thinking of me. It is humbling. I didn’t expect any of it. I have cried.
I have listened to Radio 2 whilst preparing the veg, (wishing it was still Terry and not Richard Madeley) and I enjoyed the live performance of “You Raise Me Up” by one of the guys from Westlife (the gay one with the best voice apparently – Richard’s opinion, not mine) and I have cried. I discovered a blog post from a chap who wrote a letter some years ago to his mother, it was extremely touching and yes, it made me cry.
And, now with the family gone, I realise that this has been the underlying theme of my day – either being on the verge of tears or actually being in tears. I feel very emotional and sad, but then again, what on earth did I expect? Did I expect to be so busy cooking and entertaining my husband’s lovely family that I would not even think about my mum? Did I think my kids would shower me with so many gifts and home made cards that I would be so overwhelmed with love that my mum wouldn’t even cross my mind? Did I think I was stronger than I actually am? I don’t know what I thought – it hurts my brain trying to work it out.
I spoke to my mum this morning. She answered the phone, which is always slightly concerning – does this mean Dad is out? Does this mean he is lying on the floor after collapsing with the stress of it all? Does it mean she’s taken a knife to him and he’s bleeding to death in the bathroom? Or does it simply just mean she was passing the phone in the kitchen and picked up the thing that was making a loud, shrill noise?
“Hi Mum,” I say, “Happy Mother’s Day!”
“Hmmmm” she replies, “I’m waiting for the special thing with that. I’ve hung around. That woman in the house, not allowed to wander.”
I ask her if she got my card, telling her I’d posted it a few days ago. She didn’t apparently. No, definitely not there anywhere. I hear sentences and phrases that don’t seem to belong together, they make no sense to me. “They won’t be getting the white bubbles later on, maybe. Sort of got it ready now.” It continues, “Kids everywhere. Need to get washing done and I’ve hung around, for the people.”
We chat, or we continue to exchange jumbled, confused words for a little while longer and then I ask to speak to my dad, or Stephen, or the tall chap. “Is there a tall man there, Mum? Can I talk to him?”
“Who?” she asks. “There’s no one here….I’ll go and see.” I keep my fingers crossed that he is in the house and is safe. Then I hear him faintly asking her if she is on the phone and who is on the phone. “Are you him?” she asks him. “Are you the tall man?” He asks who is on the phone, as I hear her passing him the handset, “I know her name” she says, “but I can’t think of who it is just now.”
And yes, I cried again.
When I sit and write my thoughts down, I do try to look at the positive. I try to reflect on how lucky I am, in the grand scheme of things. I try to remind myself of how blessed my life has been and continues to be and mostly, that works. Most of the time, I am able to put it into perspective and rationalise it all in my mind – that there are so many other people who have suffered and who continue to suffer terribly in this world and our suffering is nothing to compared to some. That I have been so very lucky to have had my mother for this amount of time. That I am grateful for all she has taught me and all I am continuing to learn from her. Some days it is hard though. Some days, like today, I want to wallow in self pity and succumb to the tears. I want to listen to “You Raise Me Up” whilst curled up in my bed, sobbing into my pillow, singing the words quietly to myself. Grieving over the mum I have lost – the mum I am missing.
As I sit and write this, I can hear my youngest yelling and screaming at the top of her lungs. She has been sent to bed without a story as her behaviour has been atrocious. She has stamped her feet and cried for no reason. She refused to eat her sticky toffee pudding (I know!) despite having eaten it on numerous occasions before. She has screamed “NO!” at the top of her lungs when she was asked – very nicely – to come to the bathroom and brush her teeth. She refused to go upstairs after I explained, very calmly to her that she couldn’t wear the baby sleep-suit (she found in the toy box, with the baby clothes and accessories) as it doesn’t fit her and hasn’t fit her for over 12 months. So, we have battled tonight and I can hear her now, sobbing and crying for me. Her tortured cries of “Mummy!!” are slowly melting my hardened heart. And, as I hear her repeatedly shouting for me, yelling through her sobs, there is a part of me that wants to go and sit with her and yell for my mum too. I want to lie on that little bed, holding my two year old monstrous child tight in my arms and join her in her gut-wrenching, devastating cries for a mother. I want my mum to answer my cries too. I want her to come and rescue me and tell me everything will be OK. Just like my infuriating toddler – I want my mum.
So, I will go and settle my daughter, who is perhaps not so monstrous after all. Perhaps it is just that she can sense how close to tears I am and have been all day and her behaviour is a simple reflection of that. Perhaps her mood today is a reaction to my sadness, which I thought I had well hidden, but maybe not. Perhaps today, was just all about the tears and I should have expected nothing else. I am coming Mabel, tissues at the ready. We have all had enough tears for one day. No more now.
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