Most of you know, I have twins, Scarlett and Leo. They’re 3 now. They were 1 when my mum died and they absolutely completely and utterly adored her. Scarlett especially had a real connection with her. When mum came home from her final hospital stay, Scarlett was waiting for her as they brought her out of the ambulance. The second she saw my mum she burst into this hysterical fit of laughter and sobs because she had missed her so much. In turn, the paramedic burst into tears because she said she’d never seen a child so overwhelmed with love. Looking back, I think she probably knew mum was nearing the end and her heart broke for my baby girl knowing she was going to lose her. For months after mum died, she stood at our window waiting for her car to pull up and any time one did she’d shout “nana, nana” until eventually she gave up.
I hadn’t planned on having children when I did. I was 23 and to be honest, until the day they were born, the thought of having children utterly terrified me. There are still days that I look around and wonder who on earth let me leave a hospital with 2 children. It still feels so strange that I have two little people who rely on me as much as I relied on my mum and yet if it wasn’t for them, I truly don’t know if I could say that I would be still here. You see, kids have this funny way of needing you to keep them alive, 24/7. They wake me up every morning by clambering on my head and demanding food, or Peppa Pig and so, because of them, I rarely wake up with that sudden dread of realisation anymore.
My daughter is sick at the moment, and it’s hard not to feel like I’m failing her. There is nothing I want more than to call my mum and ask her what I’m supposed to be doing. When you’re sick there’s no one you want more than your mum and when your babies are sick it’s no different. I’ve walked this parenting path without her for nearly 2 years now, and I can’t even describe how hard it is. I want to tell her how grateful I am for raising me, for struggling through parenthood. I want to apologise for all the times I was a whiney toddler or bitchy teenager. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that I’ve lost the woman that changed my nappies, bandaged my cuts and kissed my bruises. The woman that taught me how to ride a bike, helped me with my homework and threw birthday parties every year. The woman who encouraged me to go to university, held me when I thought my heart was broken, and laughed rather than judged when I fell through the door after messy nights out. She raised me through every milestone and I always presumed she’d tell me how to do the same with my children.
Being a mother is hard. My children give me an overriding purpose, but on a day to day basis I spend most of my time feeling like I might just lose my mind. A few days ago my daughter was shouting at me, probably because I cut her food up the wrong way, or I held the wrong hand, or I gave her the pink cup instead of the yellow one. She usually shouts and stomps and then gives up and runs off smiling, but this time she looked me dead in the eye and said “I don’t like you mummy, I like daddy.” I remember my mum telling me this would happen. I am so unbelievably grateful that I still had my mum when my children were born. I can’t imagine how it would feel to have had my children without her there. Some of the things I remember her saying are “just you wait until the first time you see your child look at you and their lip quivers and you realise that in that moment, you’ve devastated your child’s world, or “you think you’re doing okay and suddenly your child tells you they don’t love you” or “you go to hold your child’s hand and they shrug you off in horror and tell you that you’re embarrassing.” And so, when my daughter told me she didn’t like me, I remembered my mum. I remembered that I probably told her I didn’t like her a hundred times growing up, and my heart felt sad because I know how far from the truth that is.
My kids come first. They will always come first and as selfish as it is, the realisation that I no longer have someone who puts me first, hurts, because not only have I lost my parents love, but once you have children, your own needs get put on the backburner. I miss the days when I was allowed to feel ill and not have to get up and make breakfast 3 times until I’ve gotten their porridge the “right way.” Or the days when I’d get ready for work and leave in 30 mins, rather than getting up 2 hours in advance. So parenting without parents is weird, because as much as losing my parents put things into perspective for me and made me recognise how much I need my children, and how grateful I am to them, there are still days when I feel so resentful that I don’t have my own mum to do all these things for me anymore.
It’s Mother’s day in the UAE tomorrow, and my inbox and timeline have been flooded with advertisements for gifts and spa days. My heart plummet’s every time I see them because I would give anything to spoil my mum one last time. I usually spend mother’s day feeling miserable and sad, but I know my mum would never want that. So, this year, I’ve decided I’m going to try and put myself first a little and let myself enjoy mother’s day as a mother, because mothering is hard, and mothering without a mother is even harder.
So if you’re reading this as a mother, a motherless mother or a motherless daughter, I urge you to do the same. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to come up for air every now and again. If you’re lucky enough to still have your mother’s, then I urge you to spoil them, not necessarily with gifts or spa breaks… but with your love and appreciation, because not many have worked harder, and sacrificed more, than her.