On Mums. Extract from something…
I have never taken for granted that my body was capable of making (with help) and growing and nourishing and hosting and birthing (with help) a baby, I’ve never taken for granted that my baby and I received diligent free care in hospital until Marcie was strong enough to leave, that my baby came home and stayed big and strong and healthy and grew to walk and talk and make us laugh and sing childhood songs and feel joy. That I felt that sweet victory of learning the mysterious dance of chromosomes had listened to my silent wish and given me a daughter, which felt like such a win for women and myself, which is so silly of me I know. That I get to look forward to her being my daughter every day. That I get to feel the exquisitely sharp pain of such love, to feel the immeasurable privilege of such a sweet duty. That weightless weight, that boundless realm of being her mother. And I have never taken for granted that I am still here, changed but unbroken, alive and able to love anything.
I do though know of something I’ve taken for granted. It’s taken becoming a mother to know it, though maybe it would have happened naturally with age. I know that I have taken Mum for granted. Not in a rude, demanding ‘never saying please or thank you’ sort of way. But just by being so casually always loved by her. So flippantly adored. So nonchalantly supported. So assumptive of her dedication to me over everything else. Being loved can make you lazy.
We can be so blind to our mothers’ own womanhood. We are never tender enough with their bodies. We never hug them then let our hands drop to lovingly pat the place that was our home for nine months. We never look at the faded knot of our belly buttons and think how that once was the channel that fed us, the tube that fused our bodies together. We never rub their lower backs and think of all the ongoing aches they’ve had because of us. Of their hips and pelvis that need Pilates, their clicky knees, their tired feet. The hands and wrists they twisted and repetitively weakened by carrying us and playing with us. The relentless daily wear and tear of loving us so efficiently we’ll never know how much they’re doing and feeling and hiding. We never think of their less-full breasts and their stretch marks and their scars and their changed relationship with their female parts, that whole unseen world inside them, their altered role in intimacy, their sisterhood and secret competitiveness with other women, their perception of their own beauty or sexuality or desirability. The thinned hair and the eye bags. We don’t think of Them Before Us – their bodies, their freedom, their smoothness, their time, their old hobbies, their much more carefree brain. We think we thank them, and we sort of do on their birthdays or Mothers’ Day or with flowers on a Sunday just because, but also we don’t. Not really, in a dedicated ‘I am actually thinking of every thing you’ve been through to be my mother’ sort of way. Because we couldn’t think of all of that in full expansive reverential detail, on one day, in one thank you, if we tried. We couldn’t do it. And they probably wouldn’t want the fuss if we could. Because they are just our mums being our mums.