It is Mother’s Day this weekend (in UK) so thank you very much Rachel for allowing me a guest spot on your motherhood blog on this important weekend.
I am a mother. I still feel odd saying that. Even after nearly 30 years. Mother for me is a complicated word, having all to do with my own relationship with my mother, who died just a few months ago. This chain of motherhood, from girl to woman to girl and onward through the centuries is a mind blowing, heart-stopping concept. (Interesting word, concept, in this context). Think of it; every girl, womb to cord to belly button to womb, since time began. A strong of connectivity linking us in a very physical sense to our earliest ancestors.
So from my mum, to me, to my daughter. And then on to hers. My line. My place in that line. From a powerful woman, who in turn came from a line of powerful, Irish farmer women, full of what she had been made to be by her mother and her upbringing, through me, made as I was by her and my own upbringing to my own, made as she was by me, her dad and her life so far. Handing on motherhood from one to the next.
My mum was such a powerful influence in my life that I cannot even fully take ownership of the word. I fought against the behaviours I did not enjoy, and tried consciously not to display these to my own child, but I could hear her in my voice. Her words, her thinking, colouring my own motherhood. Like some sort of natural force, I heard her parenting coming through. I welcomed the good but tried hard to repress the not so good, trying to be the best mother I could be to my own darling child.
Looking at the relationship I now have with my own daughter I can feel proud that I think I have managed the balance. I see in her the strength of many generations of Irish farmer women, getting on with it, a strong sense of justice, not suffering fools gladly, being careful of her position, being adventurous without taking risks that would hurt her foundations, creating a home of love, making a life of her own determining. I recognise those qualities in me and know that for this we can both salute the mothers that came before us.
I think of the mother I was, to a small child who needed me to help navigate her way through life, to explain the world, to supply everything she needed, protect her from any harm, give her the cuddles she needs.
I think of the mother I am now, still trying to explain the world as I see it but recognising that she might see a different world. Still helping her navigate through situations now – more helping her think about it than giving her the answers. Still supplying her needs but now it is a bunch of tulips to make her smile rather than the basics of life.
Being a mother to an adult is a strange and rewarding thing, and makes me think about my own mother more than ever. I can never know what it was like for her to be a mother to an adult daughter,because I did not ask her and now never can. So now I am on my own in this motherhood lark. No sat nav. I wish I had known, so that I would have asked more.
I think sometimes my daughter does not need me now, she has her own life and she meets her own needs. And then something will happen, my pleasure will bring a tear to her eye, my delight in something she has done will cause such a look of joy that I know I have underestimated motherhood yet again.My own thoughtlessness can cause her distress, such that I know we are still bound together, still part of this unbroken line of mother, girl, woman, mother. I still need to be careful of her, my precious daughter, even though she is an adult with her own household, thinking in turn about being a mother. Another link in that line.
Once you are a mother, you can never not be a mother. I take such joy in my motherhood, now as much as when she relied on me for everything. Now our giving and taking is through choice not necessity, so every smile is a gift. Every relationship is a complicated landscape, and you are never completely certain that your map is accurate. But for now, right now, here in my place, I can look around our relationship and know that we are strong. Both adult, both needing each other, both loving each other.
I look at her in her adult life and marvel that she made it to here. Prouder than I have reason to be, I take joy in her pleasure, pride in her achievements and want to kill anyone that offers her hurt. You never lose that, the lion inside. Now the cuddles are two way. Now she takes me to lunch, takes me to the cinema. Now we are grown up, but forever mother and daughter. Soon she too will be a mother and I hope I can help her navigate that landscape, too. As much as she wants me to. Hopefully not a whisper more.
So from one mother to all mothers, Happy Mother’s Day.
Dawn McCracken 1959-2019
Dawn blogs at No Bad Choices