(AND SOMETIMES NOTHING....)
This blog post is a long time coming.....
I have been radio silent for a while, I have had a few personal trials and tribulations that have left me unable to write anything other than Uni submissions.
But because we have just had international women's day and mothers day coming up at the end of the month (in the UK), I wanted to talk about my relationship with my Mum.
I hasn't always been an easy relationship for either of us, or what I saw other daughters had with their mothers.
We have had own own issues and sometimes we have made it hard for each other.
However in the last few years my relationship with my Mum has become, through honest communication, empathy and self evaluation on both our parts, one of the most special, authentic and sincere relationships I have.
Not only does she listen to me bitch, and cry when life is just too much, and that can be often. When times are tough emotionally she often is the voice of reason, and she helps me to think and evaluate not just my role in whatever the issue is but also how I should respond in the most productive way. She tries to understand my mental health struggles from a place without judgment and with love and empathy. Some of this is informed by her own struggles with mental health.
She proof reads and checks my essays, and I am so sure that her input raises my level of writing to a place where I am excelling. She often challenges me and supports me in everything I am trying to achieve.
She takes criticism just as well as she gives it, understanding as I do that it comes from a place of love.
But we were not always this way....
My Mum left my Dad just before my ninth birthday, and we remained with my Dad. The reasons for their separation were theirs and nothing to do with us. But the fact that she chose not to drag us through the courts to be our primary live in carer, and not to leave my father homeless is actually a testament of her love rather than the abandonment I saw it as at the time. My perspective has changed as a mother, and understanding the trauma that my Mum herself was put through with her parents divorce, has informed this new viewpoint.
That is not to say that in some ways both my mother and I do not have regrets over situations that arose following their separation, that perhaps would not have come to pass had she have been our primary care giver, or remained married to my father, but we both choose not to live in the world of what could have been. In this moment in time I am not ready to lay myself bare and talk about these events or situations just yet.
My father in many ways was and is a wonderful father, and he is to be applauded for being a single parent. Because it is not easy for anyone to be a single parent.
I love my father very deeply and have a great relationship with him (although again not perfect). I am grateful for the sacrifices he made and that he tried his absolute best and is still a large and helpful presence in my life and my children's lives. And his help and support since I became a single parent, is something I will forever appreciate.
But I do not now, looking back, like the way my Mum was vilified by many people, at the time.
How dare she leave her children, what kind of mother does that? And she must be selfish to have chosen to have taken that path. I wonder if this would have been the same had my Dad have been the one to not remain.
What no one talks about is the utter hell it must have been for her.
She may not have been the most fluffy maternal mother in the world, but her children at different times really didn't treat her very well. (I am not saying that we did this knowingly necessarily and I know that it was a reaction to our own feelings however they were being informed).
Mum at one stage has admitted that her reason for having children was because my Dad wanted them so much.
This admission actually makes me admire her because in my experience this kind of honesty is not common, and was never said maliciously, but more as an admission of her perceived imperfection.
I have no doubt that my Mum loved us, even if at the time one or both of us (my brother and I) may not have recognise it, because it did not fit into the cookie cutter version of what everyone around us and society believed a mother should be or do. This is sadly as far as I can tell still the reflection of the unachievable ideal that all mothers are supposed to live up to. That is not to say there are not some awful parents of other genders that exist.
What she did show me is how to fight for what you want and aim for the stars.
(I am lucky that this is a philosophy my parents share).
She demonstrated this through leading by example....
After my parents separated she became a mature student and got a Masters degree in Public Relations, without having a Bachelors degree and based on only her work and life experience.
And she achieved it, as a distance learning student, whilst working full time!!! She then went on to work in that arena successfully for the learning and skills council in East London and various other entities that try to make a difference.
She has stood her ground with her fair share of crappy bosses, one in particular that was abusive, so she left that role and made sure he was aware that his behaviour was unacceptable.
We do not agree on everything; neither one of us professes to be perfect.
We often have opposing opinions on all sorts of subjects and choices that both of us make or have made. We have had many issues and disagreements (some serious) in our past, and I am not under any illusion that history can be re-written, but some situations when evaluated from another place in time and with understanding of another viewpoint are not always the way you initially perceived.
We are very different in many ways and similar in others, we have learned to appreciate, understand and often embrace those differences and see some of them as strengths as well as flaws. We both know that we are imperfect and that it is unrealistic to expect another person to be ideal in every way, irrelevant of their relationship to you, which is part of what has lead to this more open and genuine connection we now share.
So in light of the celebration of women and those who inspire us, and in part because of the death of my best friend - whose daughters no longer have her to guide them - I wanted to address some of my and societies unfair judgements of my mother.
This is to let her know that I am forever grateful that she is in my life, and that she is my mum and I am proud to be her daughter. Not everyone is so lucky.
I hope that everyone gets to be as lucky as I have been and perhaps gets to reevaluate a situation or event that has long passed with the benefit of a new perspective, even if it is to experience a long needed sense of peace. As always thank you for reading.