I’ve just been on the phone with my mum, nattering and catching up, not earth shattering I know but for me wonderfully reassuring. I speak to my mum almost every day and if I go four days without a conversation then something’s up, usually with me. It’s been a relief to be honest because mum has actually just returned from a holiday, ten days in Morocco. Ten days without a conversation, without her kind words and here understanding oohhs and uhuhs as I relay the daily tales of my life, ten days of feeling a bit bereft and missing my mum.
Back in my twenties I was at university and then settling into my first proper job in another city. I didn’t see much of mum, apart from restoration weekends and washing trips. I was far too busy doing all sorts of things that I know she wouldn’t approve of. There was also the sadness, post dad moving on to pastures new our home was tinged with sadness, not just hers but the woes created by the space he left by not being there. The bitter after taste of a broken family meant home was not always that appealing. Luckily my younger sister was close at hand and also rather conveniently brought a beautiful baby girl to our lives, mum’s first granddaughter and much of mum’s life was centred there, leaving me to selfishly pursue my own.
Even when I married and moved close to home with Mr H, living about a mile away I still didn’t see that much of her, again I was busy with a social life and family get togethers could really get in the way of spending time with friends. When I look back on it now I see the stealth like interactions, the contact she maintained, keeping her distance but ensuring my wellbeing. Bags of washing and ironing collected and returned, small bits of shopping and essentials obtained in my interest, books with me in mind or something small to lift my spirits. In the years I have lived far from home there have always been letters with snippets of news, thoughts, hopes for happiness, surprise parcels containing much wanted items and always cards featuring puffins relaying the message “I saw this and thought of you”. Always there, not intrusive not over bearing just letting me know all I need to do was reach out and I would find her.
It started in the lead up to the adoption, a shift in my world, a sudden need for an adviser versed in being a parent. To some one’s own parent is the natural choice to others a port not be called upon. For me I reached out and found my anchor, firm and stable before me, my mum. I would phone and regularly up date her on our progress, we would spend time together planning, talking things through about what might become, might be.
Then Mr H and I met our boys and there was so much to tell, each night a lengthy discussion about how it had gone and how this excitement may evolve, hopes for the future and practical considerations. Providing a support for myself and Mr H, who sometimes found my need to discuss everything and anything a bit much, mum was doing us both a service.
Once the boys moved in there was the need to assess “do you think this was the right thing to do?” “Do you think I reacted badly” and also the “and then Tink said…” or “guess what Stig did today”. These conversations quite quickly turned to exhaustive rambles, concerns and anxieties about extreme behaviour and frustration and upset at not knowing what to do. My mum never judges, she is never too tired to listen, uninterested or fed up with hearing the same old news. She offers sympathy when it’s hard, praise when is gone well and gently reassurance that things will work out. She is also often frustrated she can’t just make all things right, she doesn’t always say but I hear it the momentary silences “why can’t I stop this, why can’t I make it all right for my daughter?”
To date she has rode some monstrous storms with us and I have often felt guilty for including her in the sometimes troubled voyage which is our family life. Althoug, the problem is that without her I can seriously say I would have sunk several times over. When you adopt the social workers want to know who your support network are, for me beyond Mr H, mum is a cog that the machine of our day to day life would fail to fully function without.
Six and a half years she has sat by that phone and listened to me regale, wail, exhale, before I suddenly realise I need to ask the question “oh and how was your day?” Words are not nearly enough but I’m not sure that anything ever will be enough for the amount of gratitude I owe her. I’ll say it anyway “THANK YOU for being the wonderful person you are and thank you for being my mum.”