I remember thinking, as a teenager that I hated my Mum. She was strict and struggled to understand me. In my teenage angst I really felt like her sole purpose in life was to ruin my life and put an immediate stop to any fun I was trying to have.
My hormonally-charged brain was absolutely convinced that she wanted me to have no friends, to never have a chance of a boyfriend and that she actually enjoyed humiliating me in public. I battled with her regularly from the age of 14, usually over my curfew, which was always half an hour earlier than all my friends and just seemed to reaffirm to me what I already believed – that I was a bit of a geek and a square and was just kind of uncool. Of course, she was simply trying to manage a hormonal teenage girl, desperate to free herself from the clutches of childhood and desperate to grow up too quickly. I see that now. I didn’t then.
Of course, my relationship with my mother changed as I grew up. My twenties were a decade of finding myself, living away, travelling, becoming independent and my mum was always there, at the end of the phone to help, to offer advice, to support me emotionally, financially and physically whenever I needed her. She loved coming to visit me in London, spending time with me and my sister and our friends. Giggling with us like only girls can – over nothing and yet everything in that moment. Seeing West End shows, laughing over the “Mind The Gap” announcements on the London Underground and creasing over whenever we heard “Neeeeasden” (those who travel on the Jubilee line with get it), silly little things that shouldn’t have stuck in my memory, but have. She seemed to delight in watching me grow up, sharing in my experiences and getting to live things she had never had the chance to when she was in her twenties.
My thirties were all about marriage and babies and I loved every minute of it – despite me writing regular blogs bemoaning my children and the difficulties of being a mother – it has been my favourite decade yet. My mum and dad travelled down to Yorkshire as soon as I went into labour with Archie and sat in the hospital waiting room for hours until he was born. Just knowing they were there, a few feet away helped and each time I have been in labour, then and twice more with our girls, I have cried out for my mum, have pleaded with Hubby to call and get them mobilised and there, as I simply wanted my mum. Having her there as I got home from hospital each time with our newborn babies was so reassuring, calming and safe. Being able to ask her advice, her making me a cup of tea, her helping me change a nappy or going out to buy green cabbages to sooth my engorged boobs, the pride in her face as she held her new grandchildren…the little things meant so much.
I am very like my mum in so many ways. We are both impatient when it comes to the little things in life – we are very forgiving and patient when it comes to the big stuff, but the small, insignificant things like waiting for lifts with people who should be taking the escalators, bad service or general rudeness by anyone – they make our blood boil! We cannot help ourselves from commenting a bit too loudly under our breath, it’s a bit like tourettes, it just comes out. Of course, in retrospect it’s little things that don’t matter and they shouldn’t make us cross, but they do! When I was in M&S last week and I walked past the lift and noted the handful of people waiting for it to take them up or down, only one of them had a pushchair, the rest looked perfectly fit and able to walk without any aid whatsoever….so why weren’t they leaving the lift for the mums with prams and small children, who are not allowed to use the escalators, or for disabled people who have no choice? Oooohh, it makes me cross and as I acknowledged my anger last week on my march past the lift queue, I found myself smiling as I remembered who I take after. She would have tutted away with me, grumbling over the laziness of folk these days. Ha! Good old Mum!
I miss her more than I can put into words. I would love to call her and just chat…. about nothing and about everything; about the rude woman who used to work in Boots and now seems to be working in Next, (and I refuse to let her serve me as she was so mean to me once – I can hold a grudge for ages!); about Martha’s cough last night and how she coughed so much she made herself sick, she would have been sympathetic and would have worried about Martha, calling again tonight to check how she was doing. I’d have loved to have chatted with her about my sister-in-law’s 40th party on Saturday night, telling her how I embarrassed myself with my ridiculous dancing and how it is her fault – as I take after her by being more than happy to be the first on the dance floor! She would have laughed. It is these conversations that I miss most. Yes, don’t get me wrong, I also miss her when it comes to the big stuff too; the kids, business, marriage, health – the things that worry us all – the big, heavy shit in our lives. But, when I hear friends talk about their mothers and just popping in for a cuppa, or they talk about their mums helping with the kids for an hour or wanting to take the kids out for tea, or wanting to spoil them just because it’s Friday, or going shopping with their mothers, the little, everyday things – then it hurts. A lot.
Instead of shopping, or giggling or talking about the mundane challenges of daily life, I speak to her daily, but there is no joy, there are no giggles there is no acknowledgement of what is going on in our lives just now. Mum is either confused and calm but completely incoherent in her words, jumbling them up, mixing up the structure of her sentences or missing out words altogether. Or… and this is worse, she is angry and agitated, fearful about the men in the house and the children running around the place, hopeful that they will go to bed soon and let her rest. She whispers about the danger she is in. She asks for help, her voice cracks with emotion and there is absolutely nothing I can do to help her. Nothing. I am helpless at the other end of the phone. All I can do is try and reassure her she is safe, that I would not let her be in any danger, that I know where she is and I know who she is with and I know she is safe. She doesn’t believe me. She never does.
Oh, the irony of it all, this shitty situation….when I am most upset about my mum, when the reality seeps in and I am floored by the sadness and winded by the grief, the person who I want to talk to the most, the only person I have ever believed could make things right again is my mum. I just wish I could tell her that.