During my son’s first term at preschool there were lots of tears, from both of us. I would wait for as long as I could in the carpark after dropping him off. I would watch my phone, waiting for updates all morning. I would hold my breath when picking him up, hoping to hear news of a happy day. Those first few weeks broke me. Which made me think of you, Mum.
I remember when I was 4 years old and hadn’t made friends at school. I’d walk around the playground at break time by myself, feeling invisible. What I didn’t know at the time, was that you were there.
You would stand at the bottom of the field near the school and watch me. Every day. You’d get my baby sister up and out the door just to watch me walk around the playground by myself.
I remember when I was 11 and my best friend had stopped talking to me. She decided she didn’t want to be friends anymore because Heather’s hair was longer. I was devastated. I wrote it down in an old colouring book. I walked into my room, and you were there.
You were holding the colouring book. You’d found my words. You hugged me and we cried together.
I remember when I was 17 and I had been out in town with my friends. It was about 1am and we were getting a kebab. I looked out the window and you were there.
I called you to come and pick me up, and you did! You would pick me up whenever I went out into town at night. I would call you anytime, you’d wake up, get into the car, and drive to find me, wherever I was. If I had friends with me, you’d drive them home too.
I remember when I was 23 and I went through a horrible break up. You knew he was a bad choice and you watched me hold on in that relationship even though it was destroying me. You waited for me, and when I was ready, you were there.
My friends made it clear that I was being an idiot, so I stopped telling them the truth because I didn’t want to hear what they had to say. They were right, of course, but you knew I would never do what anyone else told me to do. So, you just listened. You let me experience it, and learn from it, so that I could realise that I deserved much more.
I remember when I was 30 and you got drunk on Prosecco on my wedding day. You’ve only ever been drunk in front of us once before, and you ended up doing a karaoke rendition of a Maroon 5 song. We were all teenagers, so we were horrified.
My brother and I looked along the top table and you were there.
You were sat there in your beautiful, blue, mother-of-the-bride dress demolishing crisps, and we giggled at our funny mum. Dad looked after you, and you apologised the next day while you helped us tidy up the venue. I thought it was funny. You didn’t so much. You said it was because you’d been dieting to get into your dress, you hadn’t eaten anything all day and it was the first drink you’d had in a long while.
I remember when I was 31 and I was in active labour with my first baby. I was waddling towards the hospital doors with my husband and sister, and you were there.
It was midnight and you had your pink fluffy slippers on, and I couldn’t cope with you seeing me in this wailing, mooing state, so I sent you home. You scurried away into the darkness without protest.
I remember when I was 33 and I was 4 days postpartum after having my second son. I was in pain. It was late, but I decided to go to hospital. It was during lockdown, so the hospital was very busy, which meant a long night for me, and I had to go in alone. At midnight, you text saying, “I’m outside.”
I immediately told you to go home. They wouldn’t let you in, so you would just have to wait outside in your car for hours. Which, you did. You waited all night. I came out at 4am with a diagnosed womb infection and a lot of emotions. And you were there.
And now I am a mum myself, I am thinking about you. You have spent the entirety of your motherhood, being there. Always. And not just for me! You have done it for all four of us. You make each of us feel like we’re the favourite one. You are the most wonderful, selfless, caring, and thoughtful person in my world. I couldn’t survive my own motherhood without you. And I’d like to say thank you.
Thank you for watching me on the playground, that must have been hard to see me in my loneliness.
Thank you for holding me after you read my words, that must have hurt your heart to see me so sad.
Thank you for picking me up after nights out during my teenage years. That must have been your way of knowing I was safe, meeting my friends, and seeing a glimpse of my life.
Thank you for listening to me when I made bad relationship decisions, that must have broken your heart to watch.
Thank you for every emotion you felt on my wedding day. That must have been overwhelming. I can’t quite imagine how that must feel.
Thank you for coming to the hospital to support me in labour, and for scuttling off when I asked you to. That must have been upsetting. I imagine you worried the rest of the night and were desperate to get back to me. Holding my baby a few hours later must have filled you with sheer relief and joy.
Thank you for waiting out in the cold all night while I was having postpartum problems, even when I told you to go home, repeatedly. That must have been worrying. Going home would have made you worry more. I needed you and you knew that more than I did.
Thank you, mum, for every moment you have spent being there for me. Some I remember and some I don’t, but I know unconditional love, I have felt it my entire life, and that’s because you have never stopped showing up.
I will always need you.
I can only hope to be half the mum you are.
Everyone deserves to have a mum like you.
I love you, always.