As its International Women’s Day I couldn’t think of a better blog post than the open letter I wrote on Selfishmother.com to the most amazing woman I know: my mum.
I spent the evening of Mother’s Day reading some amazing blog posts from daughters across the world writing letters to the mums they had lost – and so dearly miss – about the moments they wish they could share with them, now they are mothers themselves. As a result, I cried and am thankful, so unbelievably thankful, that I still have my mum with me.
So here I am, instead of squandering the opportunity, seizing a precious opportunity that many are unable to take and writing an open letter to my mum. My love letter, my thank you, words a Mother’s Day card will never be big enough to hold:
I am so lucky. I really do believe I have the best mum in the world. I hope and pray that one day my children will feel the same way about me. You do so many things and have so many qualities but mothering is one of your best (if not the best) talents. The way you care and nurture not just your four children and two grandchildren, but everyone with whom you come into contact. It is no coincidence so many come to you for help and advice.
‘Thank you’ – these two little words don’t feel big enough to express how truly grateful I am to have you.
Thank you: for being by my side though this journey into parenthood upon which I have embarked; for sharing the highs and the lows with me; for telling me ‘he’s a lovely boy’ when I’m despairing and the voice in my head is shouting ‘fuck my life’. Thank you: for telling me, ‘she’s perfect, don’t wake her in the night to feed her’; for looking after my children, for free, every week – without question or condition; and for enabling me to have a career and an identity beyond that of being a mum to H and P.
Thank you: for loving them even more than I can ever imagine any other mother would be able; for drawing with them, taking them to toddlers, teaching them to swim, jumping in puddles with them, and collecting endless ‘treasures;’ for being there for the little things as well as the huge milestones.
Thank you: for my siblings, for the busy and manic childhood you gave me; the house full of children and noise, the play dough, glitter pens, potato-printing, hand-printing, ink-blowing; for every ballet class, oboe lesson, piano lesson, recorder lesson, tap lesson, hockey match and netball tournament to which you drove me – even though I was appalling at all of these things. The decision to quit was always mine, even if you did admit I was crap years later. In the ‘there and then’, without question, you always supported my dreams.
Thank you: for the Chesney Hawkes album; the giant Roland Rat teddy; the shell suit; the kappa side popper trousers; letting me have kickers for school shoes; The Spice Girls style platform trainers & Geri style outfits; all those faddy things I requested wanting to conform with my peers. Thank you: for the diet advice: “Emma you are not a dog, do not reward yourself with food”, and the ‘cats are cunts’ email.
Thank you: for letting me go; for allowing me to make mistakes (many of which I mentioned in the last paragraph!); for understanding my personality so well, that you knew that if you gave me the freedom to smoke, drink and hang out; in the end, I wouldn’t want to do all that anymore. For by giving me the ability to defy you, you saved me from lung cancer and exam failure – just a shame about the tattoo but, hey, it’s small and as you said at the time: ‘At least it doesn’t say I love Craig’.
Thank you: for our wider family; for maintaining that precious link with our cousins, second cousins, third cousins and all those cousins once-removed. Through you, I’m part of one of the coolest gangs on the planet. It’s a gang whose members are spread across the globe; but they would all, like you, welcome me, provide a bed for the night and a hot meal at a moment’s notice. I would imagine too that there would be an evening of easy conversation on offer, fuelled, no doubt, with wine.
You have continued the legacy of which Granny & Grandpa would be so incredibly proud.
I can’t imagine how horrific it was to lose both your parents at such a young age, especially losing your Mum whilst pregnant. I was terrified that history might be as cruel and repeat itself when I was pregnant with my own babies. I’m not sure I could have done it without you.
Thank you: for lying on the floor of Croydon Hospital all night when I went into labour at 30 weeks. I wasn’t scared when that happened because you weren’t scared or, if you were, it didn’t show. Thank you for being the strong one and holding up the sky for me.
Thank you: for taking me to hospital in the first place, for knowing it wasn’t Braxton Hicks and that a cup of tea wasn’t going to resolve the matter.
Thank you: for helping to get our baby boy safely into this world, you’ll never know how important you were in all of it, I don’t have the words to tell you how very important you were – but I can say thank you.
Thank you: for keeping me from the grasp of post-natal depression when I was so incredibly broken both physically and mentally following P’s less than text book arrival.
Thank you: for showing me that being there for people is more important than any material possession you can give them. That sometimes driving a two-hour round trip to give your friend a hug in the children’s ward isn’t a chore or ‘silly’ but essential because it makes an unbearable situation a little more bearable.
Thank you: for showing me that you can never do too much when it comes to family or friends; that when the shit hits the fan/ wall/ ceiling, you turn up with your shovel and ask: ‘What can I do? Where would you like this shit moved to?’ And that above all else, you show up for the people you love.
I hope I make you proud. I hope I’m the sister, the daughter and now the mother you wanted me to be. I strive daily to be like you and will do my utmost to maintain your legacy as you have Granny’s, when that horrid day comes. I hope with all my being you live to be a hundred – mad as a box of frogs, showing us all how to style out old age.
You have given me the mantra I use in any tricky situation (& I know I’m not the only one to use it):
“Ask yourself, Emma, what would Jane Moss do?”
So thank you: thank you for being you and having me and holding me and loving me.
I love you.
All my love always