This past fortnight my little old Mum has been quite poorly, to the point where she put herself to bed, during the day (unheard of). She gets a cold every now-and-then, and back in 1992 she actually stayed in bed for 2 days with the flu - yes, that’s how often my Mum is properly ill, for me to remember the year she took herself out of the equation for a few days. We’d gone to Fratton Park, to watch Pompey play Hull on New Years Day (we beat them 5-1) and she’d had a bit of a cold. While there the wind howled and the rain blew in on us for the whole 90 minutes; we were drenched by the time we got home. It’s no wonder her cold turned so much worse. That, was the last time I remember her being so rough.
Looking back, it’s weird now to think about how, after my Dad died, I didn’t want to be around my Mum, and she, I knew, didn’t want me to be around either. I’d lost the man who always fought my corner, and I reminded her too much of him - even weirder now for I am so much more like my Mum than I ever was my Dad - in fact I think my brother is more my Dad than I could have ever been - being like my Mum though; it’s slightly concerning :)
As a result of not wanting to be around her, I made some pretty shit choices and ended up with 2 complete and utter wastes-of-space in the potential husband material stakes, but I wanted out; I didn’t want to stay living in the family home and those bad choices offered me the chance to escape. Having said that though, not living with her made me realise how much I missed her, and I would pop in at least 3 times each week on my way between work and where I was living, just to check-in and make sure she was OK; at the end of the day she is my Mum and I love her. Just because I didn’t want to live with her, didn’t mean I didn’t want to see her. I’d lost my Dad, I knew how precious time with our parents is, and I wanted to make sure I still got to spend time with mine. I even took her to America with me when an elderly aunt died and left me some money. Just because I didn’t want to live with her, didn’t mean I didn’t want to spend time with her. Plus, after all she’d been through, she more than deserved that trip - she repaid the kindness a decade later when she won a week’s ‘all-inclusive’ holiday to Barbados, and took me along with her :) What a great time we had during both holidays, upsetting each other just-the-once and on our penultimate day, and then only over the silliest of little things which was dealt with and forgotten within the hour - we called that a ‘Success’! :) .
Don’t get me wrong; as much as I love her and am more-than-grateful that she let me move back home, there are times I wish I could go home after work to an empty house. Then, I think about how one day I’ll go home and she won’t be there, ever again, and I think about how my best friends kids would give anything to have their Mum at home, annoying the crap out of them, and I remember just how lucky I am to still have mine; I am sure, at times, she too wishes I wasn’t there as well - just like anyone who lives in a house with another wishes for just-a-moment every now-and-then; a moment when they could wander around cloth-less and scratch their arse in the lounge if they so choose, without having to worry about anyone else seeing you, or passing comment. A few years back I spent 3 weeks away, on my own, and I cried at the airport waiting to come home, because I knew what I was coming back to, and sure as eggs-is-eggs the very first morning back, there she was, hovering, getting in my way. I’d had 3 weeks by myself, been used to waking to an empty place, having 2-3 hours each morning with just myself for company; I am not a morning person, do not like being spoken to when I’ve just woken, and really need to be left alone for an hour, so to have her there, constantly jabbering within minutes of my getting up each morning, upon my return, was a lot harder than I even thought it would be. I’m the same when I get home from work. I’ve usually spent all day making small talk, dealing often with difficult people - and way more than I would like, dealing with people I cannot stand the sight off - I need to go home, unwind for an hour, then have a conversation; that doesn't happen. The second I am through the door, she is there, like a little ninja old person, talking to me about things I have no interest in (don’t even get me started on our “bus” conversations!!!). I used to work an hour (or more) away from home, so I’d have my commute to-and-from work to be with myself, have some time to think, or be in my own head - now I have a 3 minute commute, so I’ve lost the “me time”. Then, again, I remember just how lucky I am that she is there, that she cares enough to want to waffle to me at silly o’clock in the morning, and how, when I come home in the evening I may be the first person she has seen or spoken to all day. She is not a lady who can afford to go out for day trips, or be a “lady-who-lunches” so unless she walks to the local shops and has a brief chat with people, she can often go all day without seeing another soul. My coming home can be the 'highlight-of-her-day' I can't tell you how sorry I feel for her, when I am her 'highlight'!! :) The crazy thing is she admits she knows when she is annoying me, says she can’t seem to stop herself, and that's fine by me. I have only the one Mum, she-is-who-she-is and I would not swap her for any other person out there (in this world, or an alternate one) :)
We may (her and I) live in a house with dry rot, floorboards which need replacing in practically every room (and some joists too) with a 30 year old heating system (which works, as-and-when it wants to). We may have a second-hand kitchen, all our furniture upstairs and downstairs (except our beds, and 2 new chairs and a sofa which I bought this year when I got a refund from my dog’s insurance) is second-hand. Our kitchen is constantly 10 degrees colder than the rest of the house (which in a north facing room is not good) due to the lack of heating we have out there, which we cannot afford to replace; to be honest, if we were to sell, the new people would have to gut the place, and start again from the ground up, but with her pension and the small amount I earn, we don’t have enough to pay for such things (not that we could sell anyway for we’d not get enough to buy anything as half-decent to replace it - in this country, at least) however, we count our blessings each day that we have a roof over our head (so many people in the world right now are not afforded such a luxury) and the reason we have such a roof - the ONLY reason, is because of the sacrifices my Mum has made during her life.
She sacrificed everything for my brother and I. As a child, both my parents went without so many things to ensure there was always food on the table and to keep a roof over our heads. They didn’t go out unless it was a work thing my Dad had to attend - luckily (in-a-way) he was a coach driver so we did (often) get to go out on day trips funded by his job, or they’d/us (my brother, and I) would never have been able to visit anywhere. I hated that the job kept my Dad away from home so often but surely appreciate how lucky we were to be able to go away with him and spend that time together. He did take 2 weeks off each year, that he would spend solely with us. Sometimes we would go and stay at a caravan his parents owned down in Dorset (how I love that place; the wonderful memories it has left me with are worth more-than-anything to me). When they had to sell, the people his parents worked for would allow us to stay in one of their holiday homes (for free). Had it not been for the kindness of others, and my Dads job, we wouldn’t have had holidays as kids, because there was no way they could have afforded for us too.
When my Dad died, I have no idea how my Mum managed to do anything, yet she kept going; my Dad wasn’t insured (never believed he was going to be dead before he reached 50) and because he had been ill and unable to work for those 2 years of that illness, she was left in debt bigger than most people could even begin to imagine (in our country the government don’t help if you’ve been a decent, hard working, tax paying citizen). I moved out quite soon after which meant she then just had her wage to pay it all back, and keep up with the bills which seemed never-ending. She went without so much more than I ever thought possible to make sure she was able to buy my brother (younger than me by 8 years, so still reliant on Mum after our Dad died) just the basics - school shoes, uniform, food; in fact she had to give up so much to stop them being out on the streets, that she ended up screwing up the rest of her life (when our NHS got rid of her at age 66 they called her “Natural Wastage” they did so without her receiving any kind of pension, other than the state pension, which is peanuts). She took me back in when my last relationship broke down, even though she knew I only earn enough to just about scrape by in this life. We owe her everything, and so much more.
She had a really shitty upbringing, with a mother who was a vile creature, a father who was dead - at least, that’s what she was told; turns out he was alive the whole time, dying only in the year 2000. Modern technology, my brother visiting records offices while researching the family tree, and my detective snooping (being a nosey bat), has found us making contact with her Dad’s family, who have welcomed us into the fold with open arms (they are all so lovely). The downside, is that they live across the pond, in the big old US of A, which means we don’t get to see them as we would if they lived here.
She asks me questions then doesn't bother to listen to the answer; she talks over me if I'm speaking to her (she says it's not because I am boring her!!). She talks to me when I'm trying to read a book, god help me if I was to do that to her. She tells me she "really wants" to watch something on TV, then either wanders off, talks over it, or falls asleep, leaving me watching utter shit. She gets me to cut her toenails for her (that is not a delightful experience). She consistently talks to me about buses and bus routes, even though I have begged her sooooooo many times not to (I really am not interested). She can't open a curtain without giving me a detailed description of what the weather is like (EVERY single morning) and I get how the moon looks when she goes to bed. I tell her I am eating healthy, so she goes into town and picks up Yum Yums as a treat for me - she doesn't eat them so can't use the excuse they've been bought for her (it's no wonder I'm such a heffer!!). She is the worst 'backseat driver' and is so bad to the point I've told her I'm not taking her out in the car with me again; aside from annoying me when she yells at people, I've come close to crashing on more-than-one-occasion when she's screamed, yelped or grabbed my leg where someone pulls across in front of us, or an animal of some kind looks as though it going to run into the road - I always keep my wits about me when driving, always see what's likely to happen before she does so when she screams I shit myself that I've missed something. Just this evening she asked me to sort out some knitting needles for her, ignored me when I told her which one she needed, put them on the table for her and she then picked the whole bundle back up again, looked at them and said "I thought you were picking out the ones I needed". She pushes me to the point of exasperation so often, but I'd not swap her for anyone (well, maybe I'd make her a little less 'aloof').
As a child if I fell over she would make me say "sorry" to the pavement, and I could often be found sitting on a kitchen worktop as a child while she set fire to a needle, which then got plunged into a thimble of whiskey before being gouged into my legs and hands to dig out bits of grit from where I'd fallen over, or off my bike. She made me tough when it came to injuries, to the point where even I was shocked a while back when I cracked my already broken toe on a concrete garden ornament and cried; proper tears. I can't even tell you how much it hurt. She failed on teaching me to be "tough" when it came to being bullied, or a 'wimp' (I cried at a lot of movies as a child - still do), however, a few years ago I finally stood up to the bullies and she was/is so proud of me for doing so.
She has done more for me in my life than any person should do for another. She is there for me, always. She taught me how to read, write, spell, tie my shoe laces :) She taught me how to try and be the best version of myself I can be - I fail her in that, so often.
There's nothing my brother, or I, could do, which would make my Mum ever walkaway from us, cut us off (except if we were to torture/abuse animals or children; I'm not sure she could forgive us that) but that's what being a good Mum is all about, surely? We never pushed the barriers, never took it to the outer limits (we were brought up better-than-that) however, even if we had, she would still have always stood by us. That's what a Mum does. Someone said to me once "a woman chooses to have a child, that doesn't mean she has to like said child" and I get that, I do, yet even if a mother doesn't like her child, as a human being she should always be there for them; they never asked to be born. My Mum understands that, and it makes her all-the-more special to me.
My mum deserves the world and it breaks my heart that my bad choices in life mean I am unable to give it to her; what I can give her though is time in another country, meeting family she’s never known, who will treat her so well and spoil her rotten whilst she is there, and if anyone deserves to be spoiled, it is my Mum, the most amazing woman I have ever known. I only hope one day I can look back and say I was half the woman she is.