Mother’s Day

My mother died when I was eight years old. For many years after, Mother’s Day was just a cruel and painful reminder of what I had lost and of how I was different from my friends at school. In later years the date just failed to register at all with me. Now I have a son of my own and Mother’s Day has come back into my life – and I feel closer to my own mother than ever before.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day in the UK and Ireland and the lovely Bibsey Mama has tagged me in this Mother’s Day meme. (Poor woman had no idea what a can of worms she was opening!)

Describe Motherhood in three words

Fulfilling, overwhelming, joyful.

Does your experience differ from your Mother’s – how?

Our experiences are surprisingly similar in many ways and in others almost completely opposite. We both took our time settling down, both waiting until into our thirties. My mum had her first child at 35 and me, her third, at 42. I had my son at 38.

My mother was an ex-pat too – from Ireland and living in the UK, in Gloucestershire. Raising her three daughters bi-culturally was a big deal for her. One of my earliest memories is my mum teaching me how to say dolly in Irish. After she died we moved back to Ireland and I later became captain of the school Irish debating team – she would have been proud.

Now I fully understand what a strange feeling it is to watch your children growing up with a different accent/language, culture and background from you. You wonder if they’ll somehow leave you behind and forget about you or where they came from back down the line. You wonder if in time you and your ways will seem alien to them. You wonder if they’ll somehow judge you and your differences as they become more and more absorbed into a culture, which however well you manage to integrate yourself into will always, ultimately be foreign to you.

My parents ex-pattery was different from ours, however. They were in the UK to work and raise their standard of living. My father built up a successful business and worked hard with long hours. We, by contrast, came here to downsize – to work less, earn less but have more time, to return to a simpler way of life. It’s as if I’m retracing their footsteps backwards in time.

What’s the hardest thing about being a mum?

The gnawing fear that you might just be making a terrible job of it! That and the incessant nature of it – the lack of time and breathing space can push you to the edge sometimes.

What’s the best thing?
Watching my little boy’s personality develop and shine and seeing him develop into a happy and confident boy. I am a far from perfect mother but I know that he knows he is 100% loved and I know how long and how far that simple knowledge from early childhood can sustain you.

Well, that, and cuddles and tickles together which just me smile more broadly than I ever have.

How has it changed you?

Radically. It’s softened me and opened me up. It’s made me more focussed and more motivated – I truly want to be the best I can be for the sake of my little boy. I’m not saying I’m getting anywhere close but at least I’m trying and that in itself makes me happier! But that’s the biggest change overall – I’m simply happier.

What do you hope for your children?

That he be happy and confident. With that he will be equipped to make what he wants of his life.

What do you fear for them?

The usual unspoken fears that place a cold claw around the base of your spine if you dare even contemplate them. But you know what? I don’t even want to give them space in here.

What makes it all worthwhile?
The fact that it’s simply the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.

I think I’m a bit late to be tagging anyone else so instead I’ll just say Happy Mother’s Day one and all – and especially to all those who have lost their mothers. They may be gone but they’ll never be forgotten.

Comments

  1. I can’t imagine losing my mother as a child, but I remember it being a fear for me. I hope you had a wonderful day with your little one!

  2. Very interesting post – I know that strangeness and fear even of bringing up a child in a different culture. I would so much like my daughter to be English but I think the English I’m referring to probably doesn’t exist anymore anyway. Ultimately we will be from different cultures and I find that sad.

    • It is a weird feeling, isn’t it? You make an excellent point about how being English today is no longer what it meant to you though. I guess if the international culture gap doesn’t get us then the generation gap will!

  3. Happy Mother’s Day, expat! So glad you explained to this American ol’ lady why I was getting all these tweets from my U.K. and Irish friends about Mother’s Day. Here in the U.S., Mother’s Day is always the 2nd Sunday of May, the week following Cinqo de Mayo! Wonderful, heart-warming sharing you have done here about yours and your mother’s maternal experiences. Thank you.

  4. of all the post, it’s amazing that i decided to click on this! every line feels familiar. we’re bringing up our daughter in a culture and country completely different from the one my husband and i grew up in. she’s walked between the two ever since she was a baby; with two launguages on her little tongue. so i share your hopes and fears.
    beautiful post :)

    • Isn’t that funny that you landed precisely here? I love it when that happens. Thank you so much for stopping by and for your lovely comment. I just discovered your blog today and I love it already!

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