To my mother
Since taking on the enormous responsibility, and incredible privilege, of raising tiny humans, I can now begin to comprehend the guilt that pervades motherhood. Motherhood takes everything, physically, mentally, emotionally; it’s is an extraordinary feat of endurance, and yet it is never enough. Still we feel we somehow worked too much, yet didn’t provide enough, gave too much independence, yet interfered too much, boosted their confidence, but didn’t foster their self-esteem. If our children are the result of an abstruse combination of nature and nurture, we blame our genes, and how we raised them (though never claim the positive).
My cynicism dismissed Mother’s Day as commercialised sentimentality, but today I thought I would use it to honour my own mother in the hope I might assuage a small amount of her own guilt, and express my lifelong gratitude.
As mother’s, we only focus on what we think we did wrong, here are all the things you definitely got right...
You provided a warm, and welcoming home. Not just for me, but for my friends as I grew up, and for my own family, now. Our house was always open, we were always the family that hosted the sleep overs, and the barbecues, and the dinners. My friends could always confide in you. You cooked with love and generosity.
You made me forever love Christmas, by making it so special and so focused on the family. It’s even more wonderful now the family is bigger.
You trusted me. To travel the world, to make my own mistakes, to make my own choices. I can’t even imagine letting my kids leave the house on their own, let alone travel to the other side of the world (in a time before smartphones and wifi). You took those risks, scared for me as you might have been, to allow me to have those formative experiences.
You were the role model for the ambitious, working mother I am today -in a generation, where that was still far from the norm. You had a successful career, with a husband who travelled a lot, and you raised two kids, cooking everything from scratch, sewing everything from clothes to curtains, creating your own easter eggs and advent calendars. You gave me all the skills I have to create my own home, and my own career.
You had courage. You moved us across the world to keep us safe and give us opportunities. You left your support network, and had to do it all alone in a new country and a new culture.
You gave us everything you could and everything we needed.