I wrote this for an organisation ‘Mother In The Mother‘ who are gathering stories of motherhood.
Becoming A Mum.
Cursed with polycystic ovaries I had been told, ‘You will find it extremely difficult to get pregnant.’ This was not in fact the case. In the space of six months I had met my husband and my step-daughter to be and become pregnant. Although I was over-joyed to be growing a new life, fear sat next to me regularly. My step daughter was with us every weekend and for my husband, I was carrying his second child. Heavy in the air around my in-laws was the knowledge that I represented the distraction from ‘the break-up’ and I retreated into myself, to protect the connection with the miracle that was transforming me. I had a well paying job and also trained to work in the arts, I began to be offered new opportunities within my chosen field and yet chose to put these on hold while I grew and gave birth to my son.
We lived in the top of a farm house that sounds idyllic but swarmed with mice, rats, flies and at one point a bloated dead cow, out in the farm yard. The house itself had a long path that the cows walked along to get milked, the path was often packed with their manure, and it felt as if I lived in a twisted fairy tale, hidden in the turrets of a darkened house, while other people drifted away. It wasn’t long before we moved and life grew more colourful but the shadow effect of those early days stuck to my skin for months.
Me and My Mum.
For a short while, me and my mum lived alone, my dad left when I was three. I remember that time as glorious, she was young and rebellious; we would paint with our fingers, open Christmas presents before Christmas and we laughed a lot. She was naughty, daring me to do things to brighten her day. Imagine me, age 5, big blue eyes, approaching a policeman to say, ‘Hello darling.’ and running away! Our time together felt free, decadent, I don’t remember there being any time restraints what-so-ever.I knew she loved me. I was aware my mum made sacrifices for me, we were poor, she would go without food so I could eat my fill. She would wear her shoes until they had holes, so I could have new school shoes. I hadn’t realised she needed anyone else, until she met my Dad, the man who brought me up.
My mum became a new creature, with perfume and red dresses, talking of nights out and ‘good behaviour’. Our lives shifted in size, more people, bigger house; we changed from being free-range vegetarians to a Sunday roast eating family.
As time passed, she became surrounded by toddlers and I preferred the company of strangers. She became a keeper of my secrets and I was her link to rebellion. At times our connection has grown faint and has felt imaginary. Mostly though she is a purple wearing, play loving woman, and I love her.
Me, My Mum and My Children.
Play and freedom of expression has always been a priority with my children and family. I believe those values were nurtured by my mum when I was little. I have felt a strong urge to protect that right, which shifted for me as I grew up. As a consequence my home is stuffed full of creative projects, art work, poetry and writing. I wonder if my children will be drawn to a less chaotic environment as they grow up, as an act of rebellion, time will tell.
When I became a mother, my mum and I were not so close. I had lived abroad for a while and she had a busy family of her own. There followed a time when our roles had to be re-defined, I found that hard. It took me some time before I learnt to mother myself and my children enough to separate my needs from our relationship.
As my children have grown, relationships and expectations have become easier to manage. I am grateful for the happy silliness we share together as a family. A love of animals, peace, respect for the planet, unexpected beauty, rude jokes and raucous laughter are all things my children, my mum and I share. I reckon we are all pretty lucky. 🙂