It’s Mothers’ Day (I’m never sure where the apostrophe should go – is it a day for all mothers or for my mother specifically? Given the context of the post I’m going with the plural) so I thought I’d give a shout out to the two mums in my life, the mum of me and the mum of my darling children. I’d like to have posted it earlier, but I’ve been too busy cooking them lunch, making tea, clearing up and changing shitty nappies.
So, first up, here are some things I want to tell my mum about how awesome she is (obviously not exhaustive, just some top of mind thoughts):
- My mum is fiercely independent, always worked and at times was the chief income earner. Even these days that’s fairly unusual, and it was more so then. Mum and dad were always a relationship of equals, a partnership, to the extent it’s a bit weird singling one or the other out in this way (but it is Mothers’ Day). Both worked, shared housework and cooking and so on. Because of this, I have never questioned women’s ability to do anything men can do and much of it better (patriarchy has made a pig’s ear of the world really.)
- Mum is strong-willed and has a point of view on most things. I have inherited this. At times this is to both our detriment (more so for me as I have also inherited dad’s famous lack of tact) – but in general it has stood me in good stead, particularly being in a career where arguing a point of view convincingly is pretty central. Drunken debates over the dinner table are a family staple and there was never any question that any voice, regardless of age or gender, carried any more weight than another. From a young age I was taught to think for myself but also to hear others because there was no choice in our house but to do so. There’s a lot of talk about the need for strong female role models for girls, but it’s often forgotten that strong female role models matter to boys too. Good luck getting the last word in though.
- Mum tried to ban me from having toy guns (sensible), but when I kept just making them out of LEGO anyway she bought me one because me expressing myself and being happy was more important. But also, when I wanted a My Little Pony so I could play with my big sis, she bought me that too. I subsequently threw it in the bin when someone made fun of me and that made mum sad – but the point is, fuck society and be more like my mum – more My Little Ponies, fewer guns.
- Mum used to (sometimes) come and watch me play football in all sorts of weather even though (a) I was terrible and (b) I quite often only got on for 1o minutes at the end (as a result of (a)). Generally, she’d be the only mum amongst all the dads. She also didn’t force me into the family Manchester City tradition, which for most of my life I was very grateful, although, as it turns out, I’d probably have been better off in the long run if she had.
- Music. This is an area where mum and dad are definitely not equals, dad only likes Medieval Babes and military brass bands. But mum ensured a childhood soundtracked by the Beatles and the Joshua Tree (there was some Cliff too, but nobody’s perfect.) When I came of musical age, mum also learned to love Blur, the Stone Roses and even very shouty Nirvana to share them with me.
- Mum read something in the Guardian once that said if you don’t hug your boy often enough he might turn into a football hooligan. So she hugged me a lot. I didn’t always like it, but I’m not a football hooligan, so it obviously worked. And I like it now.
- In general, home was a caring place, a supportive place where I was encouraged to try stuff out, a place where I felt I could talk about problems and didn’t have to hide them. That is all too rare and isn’t easy achieve whilst still ensuring your kids grow up as reasonable citizens. Thanks mum (and dad, obvs, but it’s not your day.)
And now the mum of my children. Wow. There are so many things I admire about how you love and care for our little monkeys.
- You take The Boy out to do an activity every day sometimes twice in a day. Drama class, music shakers, willow tots, woodland play, stay and play etc. Some days, I know you are completely exhausted, but if he’s up for it, you go anyway. You only don’t go if he’s tired, fuck how tired you might be. This was impressive enough when it was just you and him, but now you have to carry The Girl around with you too. If I were in charge, I genuinely don’t think I could be arsed with this. There’d be a lot more CBeebies.
- All of the nighttime stuff and all of the feeding with The Girl, as discussed here.
- You are so patient with the little man. He’s a pretty good one, but even a good one during the terrible twos is a bit of a nightmare. He drives me fucking insane sometimes at the weekends when he runs off, climbs on stuff, ignores everything you say and then just grins disarmingly at you when you try and tell him off. You have to deal with that shit all day every day, but you almost never shout and the dreaded time outs are still reserved for major offences. It’s remarkable. You’re remarkable.
- You have indulged all of The Boy’s creative urges. When that was endlessly writing out numbers and letters, you did it. When it’s making up stories about Flanimals or his breakfast cereal or the silver bars on the buggy and having to tell them when you’re walking past strangers on the street, you do it. When it’s acting out Room on the Broom and Stick Man in their entirety and being shouted at if there’s one word out of place, then you do it. These things are relentless and repetitive but they make him happy, so you do it.
- When I get home from work tired and grumpy (often) and your biggest desire is almost certainly to just throw the kids at me and sit and drink wine in a chair, you don’t. You ask me about my day (despite the answer pretty universally being “all right”) and then we divide and conquer/divide and struggle manfully against the tide until they’re both in bed. Then you drink wine – but usually with constant interruptions as per (2) and (6).
- The Girl loves you completely to the extent that a lot of the time, only you will do. This is obviously lovely, but must also be maddening. As mentioned above, there’s the sleepless nights, but also trying to do anything in the day when all she wants is her mum. When I try and help, all she wants is her mum. But you always put her first, ahead of your sleep, ahead of a tidy house, ahead of a hot dinner, ahead of all of it. Legend.
- Just like my mum and dad, I always feel like we’re a partnership, like we’re on the same side and that we have each other’s back.
- Our kids are awesome – given they spend a lot more time with you than me, you deserve most of the credit for that.
So big up the mums, all the mums, but especially you two. I hope you had a good day, you deserve it.