Where do I begin? Everyone always says their Mum is the best in the world, and that may well be true. But in the words of the super sickly Megan Trainor song that I came across when trawling YouTube for ‘Mummy’ songs, ‘you might have a Mom, she might be the bomb, but ain’t nobody got a Mom like mine!’. (If you haven’t heard it, don’t put yourself through Googling it, take my word for it that I know you very well, and it’s not one you’d enjoy!).
In my 31 years, I genuinely haven’t come across another quite like you. And yes, that’s most definitely a good thing! It’s only really now, that I’m grown and have a daughter of my own, that I can truly begin to appreciate just what an incredible human being you really are.
You were that Mama on the school playground who was there waiting to greet us at least 10-15 minutes before school was up, to make absolutely sure that there was zero possibility of us running out of the classroom to have our hearts sink because we were unable to find you. Not only that, you’d actually missed us. It was only 6 hours, but I remember to this day how big your smile was when we’d catch each other’s eye, standing in the same place you always would so we’d know exactly where you were. It was clear in your voice just how excited you were to have us back. You would never be glad for ‘a break’ if we were apart. You would never dread or wish away the school holidays or half term. You wanted us around, and we felt it. You put your career on hold to be with us while we were small, but that didn’t stop you excelling in life.
You learned to play the clarinet and saxophone, and quickly became proficient to a level that enabled you to teach students of your own. You went from being in your forties with no O-Levels to speak of, to achieving multiple Bachelors and Masters degrees in a range of disciplines (with flying colours, no less). You qualified as a senior teacher, magistrate and counsellor in just a few short years. And yet you were still always there. Never once did we have to worry about you being ‘too busy’ for any of us. You even turned down a place at the University of Cambridge, as you felt it would impact our lives in a way you that you were not comfortable with. You did all this and still didn’t miss a single moment where we might have needed you. How did you do it? Even without children to care for, that’s a huge number of balls to keep in the air. I still don’t understand to this day how you made it work so seamlessly.
I realise now that it wasn’t really seamless, you just made it look like it was. Unbeknownst to us, you endured all kinds of hardships, emotions and obstacles beneath the surface. In spite of this, you remained our hub of support, wisdom and love at all times, knowing that your consistency and strength formed our security; something of utmost importance to you, above anything else you may have been battling with personally.
You made sure that you exposed us to countless activities and hobbies from a young age, nurturing our talents and interests to stimulate our minds and help us become as well-rounded as we could be. You were the Mum cheering above the rest of the crowd at my dance competitions, you were the Mum crying tears of pride at my sister’s netball tournament, you were the Mum who paid for whatever books, gear, exams or trips we may have needed, even though you couldn’t really afford it and it meant going without yourself. You always believed in us and did whatever you could to ensure we that knew it.
Somehow, you managed to create balance between your ferocious protection and arming us with the tools to be independent and self-motivated. If we wanted a packed lunch, we made our own. If we wanted pocket money, we worked for it by doing jobs around the house. If we wanted to go out, we earned the privilege through trust by sticking to the rules that we’d agreed.
We may have thought you were strict as we grew up, but I now see clearly the reasons for you choosing to do things the way you did, and how it can’t have been easy dealing with snarky teenagers feeling ‘oh-so-hard-done-by’, criticising you for your methods, when all you were trying to do was give us the best start that you could. You were never our friend first, always our Mother. Until recently, I hadn’t truly grasped the importance of such boundaries.
During the latter half of my twenties, we didn’t talk half as much as we do now. Not because we weren’t close, but because if you didn’t hear from me for a week or two, you knew I was getting on just fine, and you were satisfied in that knowledge without any selfish motives or requirement for feedback.
Now that I have Thea, our relationship has evolved again and we’re closer than ever. I revel in your joy as you lift the lid on my childhood, and together we share and re-write some of your most cherished memories in a brand new chapter that tells the story of my own motherhood.
You go well above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to supporting me and my new family; you’d literally do anything for us. I only wish I was able to find a way to show you the depth of my gratitude for everything you’ve done and continue to do, and explain how lucky I feel to have you.
I’m not saying I’ve turned out perfect, I’m not saying you are either. I’m not saying your way is the only, or the ‘best’ way. What I am saying is ‘Thank You’, for always doing YOUR best and never for a single moment allowing any of us to feel anything less than completely doted on.
You’re the best friend I could possibly wish for, but one thing I know to be true is that no matter how old I get, you’ll always be my Mama. And ‘ain’t nobody got a Mom like mine’!
Happy Mother’s Day, from one Mama, to my own.