When I was 12 I remember having one of many fights with my mum. I don’t remember what the fight was about but I remember her closing arguments being ‘I’m your mum, not your friend’. I took it very personally at the time and it stung like a wound for years after. All of my friends in school proclaimed how their mum was their best friend, they did everything together. Every time I heard them speak to their mums on the phone, it would end with ‘I love you’. My mum never did this. She always said actions speak louder than words. Did this mean she didn’t like me? Was she just putting up with me because she had to? I always felt like I had a turbulent relationship with her. With my dad I could talk about 60’s music, Father Ted, politics, food, moan about things…anything. It was to him I would go in a worried moment and empty my thoughts onto him followed by a ‘please don’t tell mum’. My dad felt like my friend.
My mum was always tough. She hadn’t had a particularly easy life. She never sat and had emotional chats to tell me this but her sudden anger and passion on topics and the occasional flippant remark gave me an insight on the kind of life she’d led. She is a palliative care nurse and would often come home telling me about her day, how many families she had told that their loved ones were dying tonight, how many bodies she’s prepared for undertakers, how many doctors she’d argued with on behalf of her patients.
When I was born she was a month from turning 18. I was at my parent’s wedding asleep with a hat plonked on my head to disguise what my family not so lovingly refer to as my ‘second head’ which came from my ventouse delivery. My mum told me once that all the other mums in the ward when she had me bonded with their babies immediately – felt that rush of love that you hear mothers gush about. ‘I didn’t feel that with you…’ she said in that offhand way only she does. ‘It wasn’t until a few days later, I was looking at you in the cot and thought ‘aw she’s quite cute”. This again stuck with me. I felt like I was born a pain in the arse and have remained that way ever since.
That is until I got married.
I had barely digested the £85 a head dinner my parents had paid for at my wedding reception when people started coming up asking when they will hear the pitter patter of tiny feet. I couldn’t believe it and didn’t know quite how to answer it. I was 24, literally just married and had a plethora of dreams and ambitions to achieve before I even thought of anything like that. I didn’t want to be a walking womb for the rest of my life, I have a brain in my head, there’s more to me than that!
And at that moment I understood my mother perfectly for the first time in my life.
I looked across the room at her and it all clicked into place. She loved me, I am one of the most important people in her life. She would do anything for me but I am not her whole life – and that’s okay. She had raised me well, given me a happy life and a solid foundation to be the best person I could be. She wasn’t my friend, she is my mum. She’s the woman who taught me it’s okay to question things. She’s the woman who drilled into me the importance of being confident and self-assured, even if you didn’t feel it on the inside a good front will cover your arse more times than not and just because she is my mum doesn’t mean she ceased to have her own life goals. She had things she wanted to achieve and she did, she just took us along for the ride.
I’m still not a mother, nor am I ready to be. I decided at 3 years old that I wanted to be Kate Adie and I’m still on that journey so the baby train will have to wait a while longer but I hope when the stork does come to town I remember who I am. I hope I remember that I am someone all on my own, not just someone’s mum just like she did.