Tuesday 16 September 2014

M is for mothering

Lately, as I have begun to slow down a bit with this pregnancy, I have often wished that I had someone nearby that I could just call up and say, 'hey, please come and watch Ellie for me while I sleep and lie down and rest while Attila squirms around'. Even in the early days with the constant seasickness of nausea when I couldn't tell anyone yet, I just lay on the couch or bed and had toys strewn around for Ellie while I tried to ride through the waves of sickness because there was no one that I could call for that kind of help.

Mr Fork has had to do a few overnight trips lately too, and at seven-plus months pregnant with Attila, it has been difficult to manage these on my own. It hurts to bend and pick up Ellie. I am tired and sore and bad tempered. Showering is hard enough for just me, let alone cleaning a small person who just wants to be picked up and danced madly around in the water too.

A little out dated now, but you get the idea

At times like those, I miss my mother. I don't often speak about her, but during this time she is often on my mind, especially when I have questions that my dad can't answer. Like, how long was she in labour? Was breastfeeding easy for her? When did I walk? What was my first word? Did she get nauseous? Was her second pregnancy easier? I get so jealous when people talk about being pregnant and how ill they feel but luckily they have their mother over to help watch the toddler and to clean and cook and ensure that they were sent to bed to rest in peace. And how hard it all is. Hard? 'Hard' is having to suck it up because no one can come over and help you. And you have to do the cooking and cleaning and mothering and wife-ing while sick and large because there isn't anyone else. But that's my problem, not theirs… because really, it's just me being jealous about how lucky they are. And sometimes... it's lovely having a limpet like toddler who must sleep touching you. Other times, I'd love to have some space to just lie down and let the stress of the day drain away in solitude.

My own personal limpet
Mr Fork has always said his mother would come and help me if I asked. I know she would too. But really, I'd be too uncomfortable to whine to her like I could to my own family. I couldn't ask her to clean or pick up the detritus of the house. My dad and stepmother are too far away to ask, although I know they would if they could too (although it would kill them to have to say no, so I would never even voice it). There is no friend I have who I would feel comfortable asking to come and see me naked in the shower (Ellie likes company when she washes) and help me shower Ellie and I, or to put their own busy life on hold to help. So I just… don't. I put up… and until now, I've shut up.

Let's be clear, Ellie is not deprived of love. She has so many people who adore her, and she has Mr Fork's mother, and my stepmother, so she has grandmothers. But my mother has not met her. She has not acknowledged she has a grandchild, and another one on the way and that just kills me. It especially kills me because pregnancy makes me long for my mother, and I can't imagine ever not wanting Ellie and Attila in my life. So I have to conclude that it is my mother who misses out on their fabulousness and all the wonder of watching them grow up. And I will have to live with being a motherless mother. Most of the time, that's ok, I can deal with it.

My children though? They will never know what that feels like. I will make sure of it. I will be there for them and bear witness to all the gladness and sadness of their lives. That is what mothering is. Unconditional love. Selflessness. Acceptance of limpet like cuddles and that your life isn't actually all your own anymore.

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