Monday, 19 March 2012

Mother Love

It may be very true that I have four small boys and have been busting a gut trying to care for them all over the past 6 years, but I have to come clean about something; being a mother is still a slightly alien concept to me.  I’m still waiting for that light bulb moment, for the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle to fit into place, for it all makes sense, because most days I’m feeling my way in the dark.  Blundering along, hoping that today will be the day they will eat what I cook and praying I won’t say or do anything awful that might threaten their future happiness and wellbeing.  Sometimes I say over and over again to myself, “I am a mother.  I am a mother.  I am a mother!” my thinking being that if I say it often enough, it will ring true. Don’t get me wrong, obviously I know I that I am a mother.  Who could forget when they hear their name being called eleventeen hundred times a day?  I didn’t take Mister Husbands name when we got married.  I kept my own as a last vestige of the old me.  But my name did change.  It is now “mammy” and I didn’t have to go the deed poll route to do it as previously thought.  I just had a child.  Had several.  When there are three little people, and one waiting in the wings, chorusing your name from dawn till dusk, you will begin to think “mammy” was the name you were given at birth yourself.  So how do you know when you’re a mother?  Is it when you’re looking at that positive result on a freshly pee’d on pregnancy test?  Is it at the first scan?  How about when you feel that first kick?  In utero that is, and not from your toddler!  Is it when you finally get to hold your baby?  I don’t think there is any one single thing that “makes” a mother, it’s a package deal.    I open my mouth sometimes and my own mother’s voice comes out. I catch myself coming out with expressions she used when we were little.  I dish them out on a daily basis to confused and slightly bored stares from the Screecher Creatures.  The most popular slash over used ones are: Am I talking to myself?  I’ve only got one pair of hands and, because I said so, that’s why!  She also liked to tell us that we were getting chopped straws and buttermilk for our dinner.  As far as I know we never sampled such a delicacy.  Quite often there were wigs on the green in our house too. When I was growing up my mother was just that; my mother.  I am ashamed to admit that to me, my mother was never really a person in her own right.  And similarly I didn’t see her with any rights of her own.  She was just there to do our biding.  It was her job.  I’m sure every child sees their main caregiver like that.  It’s only since my own family came along that we have become friends.  There is a definite shift in the relationship when a mother’s daughter becomes a mother herself.  For me, I saw my mother in a different light.  A brighter one.  She seemed to have a halo.  I have a newfound respect for everything she did for me and indeed, continues to do.  In a way, she seems to do more for me now that she is my boys’ nana.  Because she has been there herself I suppose and knows the lie of the land.  Sometimes I find myself doing a compare and contrast between the two of us.  I definitely have a more haphazard approach to parenting and all it entails.  The only time I ever saw my mother sit down to read a newspaper was on a Sunday afternoon when dinner was over.  She used to manage 10 minutes before her head would fall forward onto her chest.  I could never fathom how on earth she was able to do that – fall asleep.  Sitting up. In a chair.  Now I know.  I do it myself all the time.  It’s still a running joke between all of us that she will have to be surgically removed from her sweeping brush.  I have another memory of her coming to my aid when I was in school.  I had fallen and banged my face off a door frame.  As a result, I had lips celebrities pay good money for these days.  The wrong kind of lips that is to say, those of the infamous trout pout variety.  There wasn’t a phone in our house back then and my mother doesn’t drive.  To this day I still have no idea how she was contacted and reached the school to take me home.  I was but a child then.  Some years later, it was two days before my legal birthday and she was at my side again following another accident.  I have no recollection of how I came to be knocked from my bike but I do recall being woken by an excruciating pain in my smashed knee. Hers was the hand that was holding mine and she was crying.  I know I made her cry many times before that but hopefully not too many since.  She clattered me once.  There is no doubt in my mind I deserved it.  I have another strong and abiding memory of both my parents kicking up blue murder when my younger sister was wrongly accused of shoplifting in front of her school friends.  My parents insisted that the till roll be found.  It was and the shop manager was frogmarched by my parents over to the school and asked to withdraw the accusation and apologise to my sister in front of her class.  My parents are brilliant.  They did and still do a hard job with, it seems to me, ease.  I hope that when the time comes for me to stick up for my boys in whatever situation they find themselves, I have the grace and ability to do it as well as my parents did.  It might seem a little twee but I liked this quote the moment I saw it; to be a mother is to know your heart will forever walk outside your body.  This pretty much sums it up for me.  Mother love, there is nothing like it.

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