I have an amazing mum. I’d say she’s the best. You might disagree, having another candidate to nominate for that title. But let’s not quibble. My mum is brilliant. I never remember not thinking she was brilliant, but I’ve never appreciated her more than I do now I’m a mum myself.
I get it now.
I get the overwhelming love for a small person who you gaze at for ages, marvelling that they grew inside you, were born from you, and were once a part of you. The realisation that they’ll always be a part of you. I get that breath-taking fear that you won’t do things right for them, that you’ll mess them up, damage them, lose them, fail them. The worry that you’ll love them too much or not enough, the all-consuming need to protect that beautiful baby from the evils and horrors and insecurities that life can bring. And knowing, deep down knowing, in a way you cannot admit, even to yourself, that they will inevitably encounter the evils, horrors and insecurities eventually, despite the fact that you’d die to protect them.
I get the tiredness. Dear God, the tiredness. I get the woozy drunken feeling of dragging yourself out of bed again and again and again to retrieve a teddy, or a dummy, to cuddle away a bad dream. I get the feeling of not having woken up just when you woke, but when you were summoned, every day for years. How did you never let it show how tired you were, Mum? Maybe I was too busy being a child to notice.
I get the unrelenting daily grind. The routine. The feeling that you exist for others, not yourself. Washing, ironing, feeding, changing, organising; the mundane details that secretly hold up the household like maternal scaffolding. The guilt and elation of breaking free and doing stuff for yourself, the worry that you’re becoming lost in the laundry, a shadow of your former self lurking nearby. Thanks for being ‘just our Mum’, Mum. But thanks for being you, too.
I get the pride. I get the lump in the throat as I stroke their hair back because they are beautiful. I understand never getting bored of even the ‘boring’ stuff; hearing them sing, holding their hands, seeing them smile. I know now why you cried at assemblies, concerts, achievements and occasions. These are milestones; look at my baby! Look what my baby can do! Look at the person they are turning into! And you could burst; you could actually burst with pride and joy. Thanks for being proud of me, Mum, even when I was a wally with terrible dress sense and a bad attiitude. I’m proud of you, too, because I get it now.
I get the fear. Are they safe? Are they learning well? Are they happy? Do they have friends? Are they easily led? Are they confident enough in themselves to do the right thing, and not make choices that will haunt them with consequence? Would they tell me the truth, even if the truth were difficult to hear? Am I too soft? Or am I asking too much?
I get the joy. Laughing because they are laughing and the sound is like bubbles, dancing in the wind, catching the sunlight. Watching them sleep. Dancing. Being taken by surprise by an impromptu hug. Just loving them. I get it.
I look ahead and I ache at the thought that one day, I will have to step back. They will have their own minds, opinions and lives. Maybe they won’t need me any more. Then I remember that I still need my Mum, and I ache a little bit less. Thanks for helping me make choices, Mum. Thanks for respecting them, and never making me feel judged. Thanks for being a constant support, an advisor, and a friend. I hope I can do what you do.
I get it now, Mum. The good, the bad, the joyful, the heart wrenching, the ugly. I get it. Thanks for all of it. Thanks for being brilliant, honest, determined, tired, naggy, motivational, supportive, and fun. I get it now. I get it all. Thank you. Happy Mother’s Day.