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Things my mother taught me

It would have been my mum’s birthday last month but 20 years ago I lost her to cancer. I carry her with me, always and in all-ways. Especially now that I too am a mum.

My mother taught me to approach life with humour, to live with grace and to wrap up warm when it’s cold out. She taught me other things too (like how to read and how to ride a bike). But as I sit here and remember her, it’s those three qualities – humour, grace and warmth – that come to mind. And I know that I try to apply them to my relationship with the Pug.
My man and me, we’re always laughing. We laugh often, we laugh loud and we laugh in the face of adversity. Puggy always smiles too, as if he gets the joke. He is a happy, relaxed and adaptable baby. How much of his sunny-side-up nature is him, and how much comes from me and the Pugfather I don’t know. What I do know is that he has a shoulder-shaking silent belly laugh that makes me smile, every day.

My mum was generous. She gave her time, her wisdom and experience, without exception, to me, my siblings, friends and family – even strangers. And as she did, so do I. Delaying gratification, putting another before myself, making the right decision quickly and confidently – I have learnt all these skills on the fly since becoming a parent. I try to rise above the squawks and stresses of daily life. I re-mould the mundane into the magical. Humour helps. I scatter fun around Puggy like little bits of glitter. My mum may not be here with me, but I can still draw on her grace as I navigate these new waters called motherhood.

And warmth? Well, November is a cold month. Autumn is all but over. Trees start to look skeletal, their leaves sodden underfoot and disintegrating in the streets. When the butterflies have flutteredby and the bees have all buzzed their goodbyes, I feel my mother’s absence a little more keenly. My thoughts turn inwards. I hunker down, eat stodgy and stout fare and wonder about gloves and how perhaps I should get some. I dig out hats and hoodies, earmuffs and scarves. I wear woollens. “Keep warm,” my mother’s voice advises, so Puggy too is bundled up against the cold. We seek out candles on our adventures, hot drinks and cosy spaces. And we sit, drink and be – with warm smiles on our faces.

As my mother taught me, I will teach my son. Humour, grace and warmth – every interaction is laced with these three. “Each one, teach one” is a saying I fully endorse. In my case it is an act of remembrance, an act of not forgetting an amazing woman, my mother. A simple way of feeling her love and passing it on to the grandson she did not quite get to meet.

Happy belated birthday, Mama!

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