What fabrications they are, mothers.
We deny them their existence.
We make them up to suit ourselves – our own hungers, our own wishes, our own deficiencies.
Now that I’ve been one myself, I know.
I have always loved my mother. But I never told her. Until about a year ago. She is strong-willed, driven and fiercely protective of her children and her husband.
Our family wasn’t one for hugs and words like ‘I love you”. I grew up in the shadows of my parents and my three brothers. Being a girl in my family was definitely a disadvantage. I couldn’t compete, run faster, fight harder or play rougher than my three brothers. We were a competitive family, and it included my mother. A Saturday afternoon tennis game was not just a game. Winning was what counted. I never was good enough. I never understood that my mother too had to ‘fight’ for her place in our family’s hierarchy. My dad was the ultimate patriarch.
The grief caused in my family when Helen, my daughter died, caused havoc. Old wounds opened. All hell broke loose the days following her death. It was so bad that when my dad saw me or James walking down the road he would turn around and walk the other way. A few days after her death he came to our office. We had to sign some papers and as he walked out, he turned around in the doorway and said; “You deserved that Helen died.”
Then he walked away and out of my life forever. I never forgave him for those words. I never spoke to him again. Couldn’t face my father again. He never acknowledged me as his daughter again. And my mother… she denied he said that. So I walked out of her life.
The parents I was close too, gone. In an instant. Just like Helen.
I’ve lived with a lot of hate and regret since then.
I denied my mother her existence.
You don’t see your mother as a woman when you are a child. A mother is just there. To play with you, feed you, dress you, love you. You don’t know what a mother is until you become a mother yourself.
It took me 47 years to see my mother for the exceptional woman she is. Funny, beautiful, loving, intelligent. She loves her horses. She can ride like the wind. Scared is not a word in her vocabulary. My mother is a strong woman.
Five years sailing on Mojito cured me of my hate and my stubbornness. The ocean doesn’t suffer fools eagerly. I learned about my strengths and weaknesses. I saw my immaturity. I saw how I had projected my deficiencies on my mother. People show their true character when death happens. I showed mine. I’m not proud of myself. Last year my mom and I talked. We talked about my dad and what he said that day. She told me that he could not deal with Helen’s death either. That he did not know how to show his grieve. She told me he never rode his horses again. He couldn’t – because it caused him so much pain. She also told me that he followed my sailing adventure with Mojito over the Atlantic. That he was proud of me.
Today, this mothers-day, a want to say that I’m proud of my mother, Helen. A woman who I admire. A woman who, after all this time and after all the heartbreak I caused her by denying her own existence, still loves me. She tells me she loves me often. I do the same. I can hug her now. I learned the hugging thing from the Americans. They love to hug and say ‘love ya’ if they like you.
‘Love ya’, mom.
I’m so glad that I can say that to her. I know she missed me those five years, as I miss my daughter. Although my daughter will never return, I’m just glad my mom returned to me. I to her.
Happy mothers-day, mom.