Monday, January 18, 2010

Mum

I have an interesting relationship with my mother. It's - complicated.

We'll start at the beginning.

I was born a girl. Not a good start. Nanna may have forgiven Mum for being who/what she was, had I been a boy to carry on the family name.

I was an accident. There were no plans for children for several years. And I was a sickly baby, born at a time when Mum still had dreams she thought she could achieve.

At the time of my birth, Mum and Dad (and me) were living in a ramshackle house, at Hastings. In 2010, it's a good 90 minutes in a fast car, on good-ish roads, to the nearest doctor/town. Back then, the roads were terrible, so speed wasn't an option. Mum didn't drive, and Dad worked. There were snakes, cockroaches were all over the place (this is where my phobia began), spiders, scorpions and no help for miles if something went wrong.

As the years passed, Mum and I clashed. For as long as I can remember, we had screaming arguments. Usually ending with a smack, and me in tears. Once, when we lived at Raminea, I ran away from home - I hid under the bridge, and talked to the ducks. I was maybe 3 or 4 at the time.

But there were good times - when we lived at Glendevie, we went strawberry picking. I had a calf named Strawberry, a cowgirl outfit, and a scooter. When the bantam rooster took to me, and ripped my legs to pieces, Mum nursed me so tenderly. And she cried non-stop.

She hand coloured, in soft pastel hues, the pictures on my Mickey Mouse Club membership card - which became my most prized possession for many years. She made me the MOST amazing dresses and skirts when I was in primary school - she was/is an incredible seamstress. She made my Grade 10 Leaver's Dinner outfit. I hated it (it wasn't what I wanted) but I wore it with pride, and held my head up, because my mother, who couldn't afford a couple hundred dollars to buy me a dress, sat up nights, to make me one. It wasn't perfect, it wasn't a style that really suited me, but it was made with a lot of love.

Part of my problem with Mum goes back to living in a small town, and being outcasts. The fact that Mum had to take in mending and ironing, and sold hand-knitted items to those who ordered them. I was already sensitive about public opinion and seeing my mother bowing and scraping to these tossers (many of the well-to-do came to Mum) gave me the irrits.

Of course, now I realise she was just doing what she needed to to keep us fed, housed and clothed. Many were the nights she and Dad had bread and dripping for dinner, after we had eaten. Not that we missed out on bread and dripping, far from it!

And then, we moved here. Mum got a life. Dad was working. As the eldest, the responsibility to cook, and keep an eye on my siblings, fell to me. And I hated it. And I blamed Mum. To a degree, I guess I still do. But then again, as the 2nd eldest of 9, she did the same thing. Perpetuating the mistakes of her parents, as it were.

When I fell pregnant with Mr20, I got terribly ill. I was prone to fainting spells, which got worse after he was born. I wasn't able to go to the toilet alone, let alone be left alone with a baby for hours while my husband worked. Mum gave up 6 motnhs of work to sit with me through the day, so The Mister could go to work.

Probably the thing I struggle the most with is the way Mum treated The Mister's children from his first marriage. Until recently, they were treated as unworthy of notice (again, she should know how that made him feel, Nanna did the same to us). Mr20 and Mr14 were the bees knees. Mr24, not so much.

These days, that has changed. Mr24 is her grandson, Mouse is her great-grandson, and the apple of her eye (after Mr20 that is). She loves them, and accepts them. And it makes me very happy. And it would make Dad happy too.

Part of this is due to age and mellowing, part is due to PB (who she will marry in October), and the rest is due to the realisation that they are ALL her family, and the only grandchildren/great grandchildren she will ever see.

These days, Mum and I have both mellowed. I accept that she has her faults, and that a LOT of the things she has said/done down the years I don't agree with. And she accepts that I WILL do what I want, regardless.

I am still the black sheep, I always will be. But Mum and I are now friends. We will not always agree, we certainly won't see eye to eye on everything. But we both accept that the other is going to make their own decision, and offer support when required. Unconditionally. Which for us is a huge step.

Please, don't think from reading this that my mother is a bad person. She isn't. She is a good woman, and a product of her environment. I see that now. I was there, and I saw some of the things that shaped her, even if I didn't understand them at the time. I can accept how that made her what and who she is, and I love and respect her because not only did she endure those things, but she came out the other side.

My mother, as much as my father, shaped who I am. If Dad gave me the foundation, Mum gave me the structure - or what the structure will be. I will go to Uni, get my degree, and a 'good' job. Because I want to, and because it has always been my mother's dream that at least 1 of her children go to Uni, and do better in their life than she did.

That lot has fallen to me, and I am damn well going to make her proud. Love you Mum!

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