Being both motherless and childless, it’s a rare occurrence indeed if Mothering Sunday impacts on me in any way whatsoever.
For Mother’s Day is, quite literally, a non event in my life.
I send nor receive gifts on this day unless you count the huge soggy fur ball I found in one of my slippers this morning, courtesy of one of my fluffy family (and I’m not talking about my rather hirsute sister).
Back when I had a life, the penny only tended to drop when I couldn’t get a table at my favourite restaurant for Sunday lunch. Damn those smug mommas and their guilt ridden offspring depriving me of my roast beef with all the trimmings with their once-a-year token gestures!
The other common ‘tell’ was the unavailability of my friends on that day, as they either had a mum to visit, kids to treat them, or some are lucky enough to have both.
And of course, it’s hard to miss it completely when the shops are literally bulging with cards, roses, chocolates and teddies (what grown woman wants a teddy?!), but fortunately for me, the only parent in my life is the ‘Good Parent’, that oh so familiar PAC model that I’m meant to invoke when I’m being shit to myself, and she/he don’t deserve nuffin as I rarely see even them anyway.
When I was a kid though, I was usually coerced into schlepping down to the newsagents for some Milk Tray for my darling maman regardless, as you did as you were told or got a clip around the earhole for insubordination if you stepped out of line in our house.
At the time, I remember some warbling, simpering brat called Neil Reid brought out a diabetes inducing, nauseatingly sentimental single entitled ‘Mother of Mine’ which made me want to honk up my Weetabix every time it came on the radio or Top of the Pops.
Allow me to share some of the lyrics with you:
“Mother of mine, you gave to meee
All of my life, to do as I please
I owe everything I have to you
Mother, sweet Mother of mine”
I have spared you the pain of listening to it by not uploading the song, but I’m sure it can be found on YouTube if you want the ultimate earworm de jour ringing in your pinna.
Suffice to say, little Neil and I did not share the same idyllic childhood.
So why do I feel so sad today? Where is my usual indifference?
Whilst I can’t be sure, I strongly suspect BBC2’s showing of ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’ last night may have struck a cord. Great timing Auntie Beeb, you soppy, sentimental old harridan you…
Not, can I stress, that I totally relate to the Kevin character, as I have yet to be seen running around sarf London terrorising my neighbours with a crossbow, poison tipped arrows and the ‘Robin Hood’ theme tune pumping into my iPod headphones.
But I strongly suspect that the character’s earlier years mirror mine.
I don’t think I was as horrendous a brat as little shark eyed Kev, but I must have been bad enough for her to dislike me so.
I know I could have been cold, aloof and when pushed hard enough, I could transform passive aggression into a war like art form.
Because as a kid in 1960’s/70’s working class Britain, that was your only weapon, unless you wanted a good hiding.
But I wasn’t as good at it as Kev. Yes, I think we did the ‘tit for tat’, ‘who can hurt who the most’ thing. But I was only a kid. And it hurt. I hurt. She had the power, and she knew it.
But as a adult AND my mother, she should have known better.
But maybe she couldn’t help it. And maybe she loved me deep down, even if she never liked me and hated me sometimes.
I think the hardest thing of all is to admit that there were some good times, which I choose to block out, such is my bitterness and desire to allocate blame, so I can’t paint her as a total demon.
I just have to think hard about what they were.
Once upon a time, on Mother’s Days past, I used to try and be how she wanted me to be so that, dead or alive, she might like me more. I’d not swear for the day, be ‘ladylike’ (whatever that means), not get into arguments and think about how to be a better person.
The irony that I’m trying to do this now via this ‘no holds barred’, profane, gut spilling on line blog/diary is not lost on me at all.
But I am praying again.
Perhaps not in the way that you would like or appreciate Mum, but hell you can’t have everything, woman! As Popeye once said ‘I yam what I yam, and that’s all that I yam‘, and whilst I was never your cup of cha, and I am open to evolving and hopefully finding out what the fuck, sorry, hell God put me here for, I cannot and will not be anything other than 100% authentically myself.
There is much healing to be done here, and I very much doubt it will all be worked out today, but in the spirit of Mother’s Day, I will tell you at least 10 THINGS I liked about my Mum
1. She was a great cook and made sure we were well fed
2. She used to let me put her curlers in and do her hair sometimes
3. We watched black and white movies together. Usually tear jerkers. In retrospect, I have no doubt in my mind that she, like me, was depressive
4. She taught me to make Sunday lunch
5. She loved animals and animals loved her
6. She rarely drank and was hilarious when she got tipsy on ONE half of shandy. Even I’m not that much of a lightweight.
7. She’d give the dog a toffee so she could laugh her ass off at him trying to lick it off his teeth
8. I think she once told me I had pretty hair
Shit. I’m struggling now.
9. Whilst usually passive, she would occasionally put my Dad right back in his place when he pissed her off enough
10. She once stood and watched me as I slept and leant over to stroke my face. She must have just found out that she didn’t have long to live. Typical me, even as I slumbered, I consciously, deliberately turned my face away.
I wish I hadn’t now.
She must have been so afraid. But I didn’t know or wouldn’t believe she was dying. I can’t remember which.
The day before she died, I walked to the hospital to visit her, and as all mums do, she clutched at my hands and fussed and berated me for not wearing enough clothes (‘yawn’ thought belligerent teenager moi), and pleaded with me to wrap up warm in future.
I never saw her again.
And on the day she died, I felt like my heart had been ripped out.
I think my mum, like Eva, tried harder with me when I was older, but by then, like Kevin, the damage was done.
What hell it is not to be loved for who you are.
What hell it must have been to not love your offspring.
Mum, wherever you are, I never stopped loving you and I forgive you for being who you were and that you tried to love me as much as my sister.
Anyway you have to admit, I could have been a whole lot worse than I was, and lets face it, if Eva and Kevin can hug it out after everything that transpired between them, maybe there’s hope for us when our paths cross again.
Happy Mother’s Day xx
P.S. If ‘wrapping up warm’ was an Olympic event, I’d have a glass case of gold medals by now. No one does it better.