When Mummy Isn't Dearest.
Mother’s Day is presented to us an opportunity to reflect on the wonderful moments we shared with the woman who nurtured and loved us, that wholesome woman who held us when we fell. Bloom and Wild have boldly given customers the opportunity to opt out of the hearts and flowers marketing messages, someone in that office knows, Mother’s Day doesn’t always fill your heart with happy memories, sometimes it’s a trigger for disturbing memories.
When I was about 8 years old I used to have a reoccurring nightmare. I would be on the bus standing by the rear doors, which were in the middle of the bus back then. At a particular stop two little Martians, close to my height, would come and stand next to me and ask ‘if I wanted to come with them’ or as they glanced over their shoulder towards my mother, ‘stay with her?'
My choice was to go into the unknown with aliens or stay in the misery that came with my mother.
You see my mother is complicated and kindness let alone the emotional tools needed for mothering well were not her reality. She was cruel, one time we were at a bus stop in Eltham (South London) waiting for the 161 which took us all the way home. She asked me to buy her a chocolate milkshake while she stayed with my newly born baby brother. A simple enough task, there was a cafe behind us that sold milkshakes and a MacDonald’s across the busy crossroads that sold milkshakes. I went into the cafe behind us and returned with a milkshake made with real ice cream just as our bus arrived. Rather than getting on the bus that idled at the stop waiting for us to board my mother took the plastic lid off the cardboard cup and poured the contents over my head. Apparently, she wanted a McDonalds milkshake.
Public humiliation and aggression were so normal in our house that I didn’t even bother telling anyone about this incident or the others before or after this one, every adult I knew failed to do anything about my mother’s behaviour so I gave up on adults and started planning my adult life. I knew a) I didn’t want to ever be a mother like her and b) to always be the kind of adult I needed as a child. So far, for me, mostly so good. But I have friends who also had dysfunctional mothers and have been so scared by their experience of childhood they chose not to have children for the fear of being like their mothers. Their love for a child they did not ever get to hold was so strong the protection they offered was not to bring that child into this world and run the risk of repeating a failing cycle.
I don’t have any happy childhood memories of my mother so Mother’s Day for me has a conflicting duality. On one hand I love being able to reflect on the mother I am and how much I enjoy seeing my children flourish - I was too selfish not to bring those gorgeous beings into this world and on the other hand I dread Mother’s Day and having this myth of motherhood projected at me. I try and remind myself that Mothering Sunday is a holiday originally linked to the Church to mark the fourth Sunday in Lent when people would visit their ‘mother’ church but the constant barrage of discounts and buy me noise usually drowns out the logical part of my brain. I don’t want to buy whatever you’re selling, I want to enjoy my children and not be reminded that my own mother was born without the elusive maternal gene.
Now I don’t want people not to celebrate their mothers or anything crazy like that, but I would like people to be a bit more thoughtful, if you have great memories of your childhood with your mother that is wonderful, I hope my children will have wonderful memories of me. It would however be a joy if people could be considerate and acknowledge that for some of us Mother’s Day is an annual reminder that the one person on earth who, according to society, is supposed to love us unconditionally doesn’t actually and once again we are a frightened little child waiting for a loving adult to gently wake us from a nightmare.