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Motherless mothering

11 May, 2014

I lost my mum at a young age. She was 40 when I was born and when I was 7 I was aware that she was to undergo brain surgery for a tumour. The day before my 13th birthday she died. Due to such a childhood I have fuzzy memories of my mum.

I remember clothes, sitting on the armchair (that we inherited when hubby and I married) – how did more than 1 person ever fit in that! Playing cards together (Whist, rummy, canasta, sevens), listening to books on a funny tape machine, her tripod, her wheelchair, helping her sit up, looking after her when she took a fall.

I remember dinners, family affairs around our kitchen table and more formal dinners around our dining table with table cloths. I can see her on her knees in our back garden digging the flower beds and remember cakes she used to make.

I can’t remember how she sounded. My siblings tell me she was strict. I don’t know how much of my mothering comes subconsciously from her but it must have rubbed off somehow as I journeyed unaided in my own mothering.

I sit here today in work having looked at the Facebook stream seeing all the mother’s day posts and I miss my family. This morning I woke and was alone until 10am with my teens getting themselves up. I had made my own coffee at 8.30am and taken it back to bed to read. I even treated myself to a chocolate bar!

The youngest boy was then conned into making me a second latte at 10am and my daughter dragged me downstairs to watch a Doctor Who – she’s started another marathon. Of course I wanted the company so willingly went down.

The eldest was being given a work trial before my work started and I had made the decision to stay home for the couple of hours prior to work instead of leaving early to go to church and mother’s day surprises to the “valuable mums and women in the church” – I’m not digging the church – doing that is great but when I have a day ahead away from my family it’s a heavy weight to bear.

So I grab a coffee while the eldest learns how to spin and stretch milk from a commercial steamer. I sit in the sunshine with my face down in my phone until I am even fed up with that in a couple of minutes and put my phone down to look around at the dwindling market. I’m alone.

The eldest is grumpy because he came into the city for the 30 minute trial and now has to kill time for potentially 6 hours before he can get home again. I’m just lonely thinking of the big empty office I have to fritter time away in as I await work to come my way as I’m all caught up to date in what I can do.

I love my kids, all growing up and going their own ways. I sent a message to my overly practical middlest boy saying I loved him – there was no happy mother’s day message before or after. Hubby had got the younger two kids to send me a Jacquie Lawson card. I know my two – it would have been done with some protest and grumbling, not because they wouldn’t say anything but they rather do it on their terms (by begrudgingly making a latte, sitting next to me on the couch (if I were home, sigh) and just general chit chat and miscellaneous hugs in the kitchen).

It’s that spontaneity about our relationship that I love. I get that the eldest is grumpy at being stuck out all day on a Sunday in a relatively sleepy city having to kill time and entertain himself while everyone else is busy mothering, working or on duty in church. I get that my youngest boy will hole himself up on the PS2 for the morning. I get that my 13 year old girl sleeps late and snuggles under her duvet on our massive chair. I just wish I could just hang with them.

I’ve missed them this last week having worked evenings for the last 7 days straight. It’s not taxing work but it’s quiet in the sprawling office with just a radio for company.

I guess one of the hardest parts of this season of motherhood is being a fulltime working mum without having my own mum to talk to, share life and kids with. I’m really bad at keeping in touch with my family overseas so some of my nostalgia is indeed flawed but I blame the international time difference!

So my heart goes out to those mothers without their kids around them, to the kids without their mum around (or their dads for that matter), to split and divided families whether by choice, geography or law, to mums who work and spend times away from home over a range of special dates like birthdays, Christmas and celebrations and most of all to women who yearn to be mums and for some reason haven’t been able to see the joy they see in other’s lives in their own yet and who see others abuse what blessings they do have.

Mums are amazing. I am amazed at the feelings my own kids stir in my heart. I love just hanging out with them now that the hard yards of early parenthood is past us. I love seeing who these squirmy creatures I knew nothing about once upon a time develop and test their own potential.

How do I capture that love in a photograph for my photo a day challenge? I have no idea. Especially as I am in the office which is not family or home, although there are glimpses around the office that my colleagues have families. I balk at the idea of using archive pictures but as sunset beckons and the blue sky fades the dark makes for poor picture opportunities.

Time to get some inspiration on!

Pip

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