Twenty three years ago I did a monumentally heinous thing – I composed a hate poem for my mother. And gave it to her. ON MOTHER’S DAY. I have no idea what perceived injustice led to that explosive supernova of teenage angst, but I still involuntarily shudder every time I think of it.
It was an epic Shakespearean sonnet of rage, petulance and existential foot-stomping that would be hilarious if not for the fact it outlined – in painful detail and in jaunty rhyming prose – just how much I despised her. My poor mother.
Mercifully, all of its hideous rhyming couplets have been erased from my memory, but I still remember the final line:
“Happy expletive Mother’s Day, you expletive expletive. Love, your expletive daughter.”
(NOTE: I AM CRINGING WITH SHAME AS I TYPE THIS DECADES LATER)
I can’t believe that in a fit of teenage pique I hate-bombed my mother on Mother’s Day. If the world was just or fair I’d have been banished to the outer realms of Awful Daughterdom for all of eternity, and subjected to endless cheesy re-runs of the Gilmore Girls as punishment.
I still recall my mother’s look of shock and anguish as she slowly absorbed the posionous darts of bile that my card contained, and it would have been far more merciful to run a drop saw through her rib cage and jimmy the remains of her broken heart out with a crow bar. It was not one of my finest moments.
Two decades later and with two kids of my own, it’s only now that I truly understand just how expletive kick-ass my mum actually is, and that I was an ungrateful little expletive with her head jammed firmly up her expletive expletive.
There are so many things I never truly appreciated about my mum until I became a mother myself.
1. Mothers have superpowers. It’s true. My mum still managed to love me when I was being a spiteful little turd – that’s a superpower right there. I’m someone who avoids naff cliches at all costs (I make exceptions for my hate poetry, obviously), but the thing I’ve discovered since having kids is that mothers are powerful. Tenacity, persistence, stamina, strength, patience – we possess these qualities in spades. We can function without food and sleep for long stretches of time. We can fend off judgement from random strangers and power on stoically through tantrums at the supermarket. The instinct to protect our children is powerful, and you’ll never see anyone swing harder or advocate louder than a mother who is fighting for her kids.
2. Mothers are some of the least selfish people you’ll ever meet. I didn’t realise it at the time but – to paraphrase that song by that guy from that movie – everything mum did, she did it for us. I used to be the most selfish person ever (No, you scoff! Surely the bard of abusive poetry possessed bucketloads of empathy!?) Then I had kids. I truly had no idea just how much mothers put their own needs aside because they are putting the needs of their children first. And it’s not just giving up the last square of chocolate or sitting through soccer games when you’d rather sleep in, it’s a reflex that kicks in as soon as they cut the umbilical cord. All of a sudden you’re willing to sacrifice more than you’d ever imagined, including your own life. It’s flipping intense.
3. Mothers can do everything at once. And then some. “If you want something done, give it to a mum”: truer words have never been spoken. My mother worked outside the home, took care of everything on the domestic front and dealt with us kids while my Dad worked very long hours six days a week. Sitting pretty in my all-knowing teenage bubble, it was clear that things just magically happened every day to keep the household running. The housework fairy and the home-cooking fairy took care of it all, making sure that my school uniforms were clean and my dinner was served. Shortly after having my own kids, it became clear to me that mothers do an obscene shedload of work to juggle everything, every single day. And they just get on with it – quietly and without fuss. Mostly.
4. Mothers put up with crazy amounts of crap on a regular basis. We love our kids, but man they can bust some balls. Making mess, food refusal, fights about homework, temper tantrums, teenage hate poetry… My kids are only young but it’s already painfully apparent to me just how much crap mums have to put up with on a daily basis, as we try to juggle the needs of a snotty tribe of little people who are finding their place in the world while still heavily reliant on us for support. My mum was my soft place to land, but she also became my metaphorical punching bag, and I would lash out at her when I was frustrated, angry or afraid. I gave her endless amounts of crap but she only ever retaliated with more patience and love than I ever deserved.
I finally get it now, Mum. I truly do. Thanks for being kick-ass.
Did you also find motherhood a revelation for your relationship with your mum?
More reasons to love mothers:
- 7 Special Ways To Celebrate Mother’s Day When You’re Missing Mum
- A Mother’s Day Letter to My Mom (Because I Get it Now)
- 5 Things To Do For Yourself This Mother’s Day