The relationship between mother and child is a complex one, shifting and changing as the years pass. I have written life story books for many families over the last twelve years, I’ve learned about mothers who are also daughters, friends, sisters, wives, lovers, grandparents and great grandparents. They are adventurers, home makers, professionals and protectors. Their memories make them who they are and shape the lives of their own families.
I’m very close to my mother. Over the years, the dynamic of our relationship has changed and our roles continue to evolve. I have been lucky enough to be able to see her during this last year as she lives round the corner and has been in my ‘bubble’. However, her health has been very poor and the challenges of keeping her well and safe during lockdown have often been all consuming. I would like to give this little tribute to her and to all those mums out there as we celebrate Mother’s Day. I also want to acknowledge that relationships can be complicated and no one’s experiences are the same. This my experience.
The thread of love between mother and child expands and contracts with time and circumstance. Sometimes it stretches nearly to breaking point. However, if the thread is strong enough, the elasticity keeps the connection safe until it’s ready to tighten again.
Childhood love is supremely selfish. A child sees his or her parents in one dimension and the unconditional love that mothers may show their children can often only be understood when those children become parents themselves.
Teenage love is challenging. Like most children, I went through phases of being irritated by my mother. I was determined to enter womanhood on my own terms and without reference to the complexities of her life. I tested the strength of that elastic thread but I was puzzled. However hard I pushed away, the thread refused to snap.
Once I had children of my own, I needed my mother and pulled on the thread with as much force as I had pushed on it before. Together we made and shared memories and became co-conspirators in the game of motherhood. In all this, my mother was wise enough to keep the thread at an acceptable length for both of us. Not too tight but tight enough.
As my children test the strength of their own threads, I try to let the elastic stretch. It’s difficult and I know that I make mistakes, but I can only trust in that thread of love as I have trusted the thread to my own mother.
As the years go by, her thread grows ever closer and I now care for her as she cared for me as a child. I cherish her memories and her stories and our time is increasingly precious.
Thank you for reading this. I wish you all a very happy Mothers’ Day and send love to any of you who have lost your mother or a child. Memories and family stories keep those precious threads in place and they can be celebrated every day.