Connection

The password to my laptop is my mother’s name.

Not for sentimental reasons, but because she was staying here when I was due to give birth and she needed to use my laptop, and my old password was a complicated jumble of capitals, characters and numbers.

It’s been six months since she used it, but I have not changed the password back to what it was.

I don’t know if I will, either. Maybe that is sentimental of me.

I can’t tell my mother that I love her.

I tell my husband every single day. I tell my babies, multiple times a day. I say I love them with every breath I take. I can feel the love oozing out of my eyeballs when I gaze at them as they do their daily life living. As my two year old explores the world and tells himself things and jumps and climbs and experiments. As my five month old kicks the air and laughs to herself and turns her bright, sparkly, star-shine eyes towards me, her face exploding into that special smile she has, her dimples winking in and out on her gloriously chubby cheeks.

But I can’t tell my mother I love her.

I don’t remember my mother telling me she loves me either. I remember going to my aunt’s house, and having her come into the room at bedtime and kiss my cousins and kiss me and say, ‘I love you, I’ll see you in the morning.’ I remember thinking how nice and warm that felt, and wondering why we didn’t do that in our family.

I know my mother loves me. She always listened to what i had to say, about other people. Not about when I fought with my sister or when I felt wronged by her. But she listened to tales about my friends at school and my teachers. Everyday I would come home and tell her, twisting how I said things to say them in a way that I knew would appeal to her humour and make her laugh. And she would laugh, and I would feel triumphant and clever and extremely witty. I know she loves me because it is in the food she makes for me, in the love she shows my babies, in the home as we grew up, in the tales she tells me throughout my life of how loved I was…. by others.

I have had horrible fights with my mother. Things that even now are not resolved and they rear their ugly heads sometimes in our interactions, so I have to change the subject or ignore her until she stops making me feel like smashing my head against the wall. She goes on and on and on and picks at me until I want to scream.

So now when I talk to her I try to connect with her in a way that I know will be peaceful. In a way I know she won’t attack me or accuse me or make me feel like… something bad.

I love my mother to pieces. I appreciate her and everything she did for me. I know she loves me. I KNOW she loves me.

But I am twenty seven now and I can see she is a human. I can see she is trying her best but she has not healed. And so when she goes on at me and my throat becomes tight and restricted and I feel trapped into a corner and can’t wait to escape, I stay silent. I barricade. I feel heavy. I wait. Then I call her some days later and talk to her as though nothing happened.

When I open a conversation with her about how I feel she gets defensive. She cries. She becomes the victim and then I feel horrible. So I stop. I just exist as her daughter. She is my mother. I love her.

And I look at my children and love them fiercely and wonder, in deep horror, if I will end up like that too. If they will hide their truths from me because I can’t handle it. If I will put my feelings before theirs. If I will take what they say so personally that they will be afraid to open up to me.

And I wonder, too, if they will give me grace and try to understand me, and realise that I too am human.

So every day I try my hardest to swallow my own emotions when they are expressing theirs. Suppressing my anger at their feelings. Trying to explore how and why and what and where their brains are doing what they are doing. Trying to connect, always, despite the tantrums and tempers and worries. Hoping that when we all emerge as adults, the connection will have triumphed over everything.

Because I love my mother fiercely, but I am not connected to her.

And I don’t think I will change the password on my computer.

Some Parenting Thoughts

Hey guys. I hope you are all doing ok in this current state of chaos.

I am trying to to navigate each day with a pair of thick metaphorical spectacles. You see, my son has suddenly had a growth spurt. He has shot up and his head is now reaching my thighs. I see it bobbing by as he walks past the table.. yes, WALKS. Walks with a purpose. Little mouth set in between two large, soft, round cheeks, and a little tummy that pokes out like a middle-aged beer belly… only cuter.

Because he is no longer a baby, he is a BOY. He toddles and has an opinion, and voices it vocally.

Naturally, with his new-found abilities, he has developed new-found interests. Toys are now boring, and he must be entertained and taught and spoken to. He comes toddling up to me several times a day, grunting with the effort of lugging his books from one corner of the house to the next, begging me to read to him. He gets so upset if I don’t immediately put down what I am doing (gloves on, water dripping from half-washed dishes) and read to him. He experiments with everything, and has no understanding of safety whatsoever, no matter how many times he has caught his fingers in the washing machine doors, he will still wriggle out of my arms and make a beeline for danger.

This means my days are no longer structured around a baby, they are structured around a little human boy. 

A real person.

He lay on me the other day, and I rocked him to sleep, and his head was on my chest, and his feet reached all the way down to my knees. And my husband came in and said, ‘Wow. Remember when he was small enough to fit in your stomach?’

I did, folks. I remember when he was breech and his little feet would kick down near my abdomen and his big heavy head would push up against my lungs so it hurt to take a deep breath. I would have to do some yoga and walk around for him to move position. And now his little body is taller than my torso.

He is so small but so BIG!

I do stupid things like cry when he is asleep because I am worried somebody might break his heart one day or bully him or make him feel bad.

I voiced these concerns out loud, and my husband asked, ‘Would you rather him be bullied, or be a bully?’

Straight away I said, ‘I’d rather he be bullied.’

My husband reckons that is an awful choice, but I’m resolute. I’d rather my son have a kind heart and good character than cause anybody else harm. I was bullied some, as a child, I think most people were. You learn how to be considerate of others when you’re hurt yourself. I never want him to be so mean spirited and cruel as to deliberately hurt somebody else. I confess, when I was four, I used to pinch this little girl in my class. She would cry. I don’t know why I did it. And I still feel despicably awful about it, even though we are friends now, and even though I apologised to her many times over the years. I still feel so despicable every time I think about it.

Would you rather have your child be bullied, or be a bully?

On This Strange Feeling

Folks. I appear to have run out of motivation. I appear to be standing in a stagnant pond, the foul smell of water that does not move, that catches waste and sits there with no way to dispose of it, wafting around me. I wear long rubber boots and a net hangs loosely in my hands, and I know I am supposed to be doing something, but cannot for the life of me fathom what it is.

Some would be of the opinion that I am doing God’s work. Striving to raise a part of the next generation. It is a selfless act, they would say. You are a martyr, for the time being. Embrace the drudgery, revel in the happy moments, and keep on keeping on.

Others would pity me. You have lost your freedom, they would say. Your mind is blank and, dare I say, dank? Your thoughts are preoccupied with another’s well-being, your brain is scattered, your emotions hang by a single, filthy thread. Every day is a battle for you, and you only have things to lose.

For me, standing here in this discomfort, it is a bit of both. I feel smothered and out of control, but at the same time overwhelmed with control and good feeling. I would not like to be anywhere else, any place else, and yet I want to be far far away. Take me far, though, and I would be miserable.

And ponds can be quite beautiful places to stand in.