Mothers have a certain kind of elementalmagic in their fingertips. The ability to make a sick child feel better bytheir mere presence. It is not a magic that fades with time, but one that seemsto grow with the years.
My mother has always gentle hands.A full body Swedish massage cannot ease the tension out of my body as well asher quiet caress. She seems to soak up all the stress and replace it with adeep peace. I hope I can do the same for mychildren, for there is no feeling more hopeless, more impotent, than beingunable to relieve your child’s pain.
At the extremely mature age of 21, I set offon a trip overseas. After ten days inScotland I was suffering from a flu that managed to kill off quite a few stalwartScots. I got myself on a train to London, conned and begged my way into herroom and lay in the dark waiting for her to arrive from Moscow. I believed implicitlythat everything would be okay as soon as she arrived. It was. I felt better themoment she walked in the door.
At 5am the next morning she stoodoutside the nearest Boots waiting for the doors to open and arrived back withblessed medication. Even now I will retreat to her home to recharge and knowshe’ll tuck up her grown up daughter in bed, make me tea and toast, and offer ashoulder to cry on.
I am deeply aware of what a uniqueand incredible woman she is, and how incredibly honoured I am to have her as mymother. It makes the knowledge that others have not been so privileged so muchharder to bear. I have a daughter of my own now and I cannot imagine everturning my back on her. I can’t understand throwing an 18 year old out on thestreet for the misfortune of having fallen pregnant. I can’t fathom accusingyour daughter of trying to seduce your boyfriend. I can’t imagine not having amother who is not my best friend.
My mother let me make mistakes andlearn from them. She gave me enough rope to give me freedom, but not enough tohang myself with. She withheld judgement on my bad decisions and was alwaysthere to help me pick up the pieces afterward. She never once has said, “I toldyou so”, however much I deserved it. I have learnt from her about what it meansto be a woman, a mother and a wife than any number of books could have taughtme. She helped mould be into the woman I have become, and while I am by nomeans perfect, she didn’t do a half bad job.
Growing up her presence wassomething I took totally for granted, I thought everyone’s mother was likemine. The thing is that many aren’t. Some of the most devoted mothers come fromnothing, live from hand to mouth and survive every second to give theirchildren a better life. Some terrible mothers are so rich they can floatthrough life hardly meeting their offspring. I was shocked to discover a childdiagnosed with severe malnutrition at a top girl’s private school. Her motherwas so occupied with her social life, she forgot to feed her child.
I may not live up to my expectationsof the perfect mother, but I will never forget to tell and show my children howmuch I love them. I love them in their angelic slumber, in the full flow oftheir tantrums, as they hang upside down in trees and paint my eyelids thecolours of the rainbow while I am napping. I love them as they transform myclean car into a rubbish tip, as they hide plastic spiders in my handbag andcreate chaos in the wake.
If they remember nothing else fromtheir childhood, I hope they remember the words I whisper to them as they fallasleep…
My love for you will be your armouragainst the slings and arrows of the world
A light for you in the darkest ofnights
A path before your feet when youfear that you are lost
It is water for when you thirst andfood for when you hunger
The shade of a tree in the heat of thenoonday sun
And the warmth of a fire throughthe cold nights of winter
It will be with you all the days ofyour life
A flame inside your heart none canextinguish
Its light shall burn so bright thatall who look upon you will know
That you are loved
Right, now I’ve got that out of mysystem, I have to share a bizarre story.
Some poor lady was brushing her teeth,good dental hygiene is very important after all, our mothers teach us that. Asshe leant forward to rinse her mouth, her lips touched the metal of the tapjust as her apartment building was struck by lightning. Luckily she was wearingrubber soled slippers, so Thor’s errant bolt couldn’t exit through her feet. Unfortunately,it chose the nearest available exit. I am sure you can guess where she sufferedthird degree burns…