There’s something about the letter “M” that has a comfort sound for me. I think it must relate to the word ‘mother’. I am lucky to have two of these- Mum and Milly: mothers that are so much part of my being that I cannot imagine life without them. And since it’s often easier to express emotional things on the page, I thought I’d talk about them right here. For Mother’s Day.
So, mum is … the thing is … my mum is not really an ordinary mum. (Shoo, this is harder than I intended!) “The softest part of her are her teeth” was how she was once referred to by a male colleague at the Bar, many years ago when she was forging her way through the male-dominated world of law. Well, you know what? She bared those teeth and with tenacity like that she became the first woman in Gauteng (then Transvaal) to have taken silk in the early 80’s and then to be appointed as the first woman judge in SWA/Namibia. Later also in Johannesburg. He was probably envious. And anyway, she has lovely teeth.
This gender battle in law, and in life in many ways, goes on. And ‘transformation’ these days is so trendy that you gotta keep up all the time, not only on Twitter (still figuring out what’s trending) but especially where I live – otherwise you get poo thrown on you and it’s especially tough being out there in the workplace for women who face daily prejudice and particularly in law where they have to prove that they are just as competent as their male counterparts, just as fierce. Fierce as foxes in the workplace only to melt into mothers (or lovers) as they walk in the door.
As I was saying…there she was, my mum, and I can only imagine how tough it must have been for her because I certainly had NO clue what it was really like when all I was trying to do was to grow myself. Children cannot possibly have the foresight or inclination to envisage the whole life their mums are leading because of course, to them, she’s just mum. That’s all they can really see, all they’re concerned about.
But Mums come in all forms and fashions. Some of them wait patiently outside the school gates every day, ready- made lunches warming in the kitchen; others scream into aftercare, guilt and exhaustion hidden, disguised but soon forgotten. Some have choices, others have not. No-one’s to blame.
My mum was exceptional and I grew up. And whatever it is that I am must, in part, be due to her. Now, closing in too quickly on the fourth decade of my life, I am more mindful and grateful that my mum is still here. Here are some hard facts:
- she is still beautiful, brave, inspiring, comforting.
- she can wear a hat with style
- she has been known to skinny dip under unusual circumstances
I left home at seventeen and suddenly, here I am now, a mum of a seventeen year old. But it would be wrong to consider my life on Mother’s Day, without acknowledging another mum who I found along the way, only to be there for him and then my girls when I wasn’t, but to be there for me too cos, hell, we all need a mum once in a while don’t we?
Milly, my other mother, arrived on our doorstep before we were even married. She turned 50 this year and looks much the same now as she did then. Together, we’ve raised our children, stopping to discuss how the years fly and how it used to be. It seems weird how far apart our real worlds are and yet how much we have journeyed together. I can hear her clanging about the kitchen now. It’s a comfort sound. Much like her singing her soulful hymns along with the radio. And even though it’s unlikely that my world of words will have the same significance for her, it’s here that I want to give you some more hard facts:
- She still has wrinkle- free beautifully smooth skin
- Her smile and her laughter can light up the day
- Without her, our family would be a creased, untidy, unhappy sprawling mess
Shoo, it’s hard to write this heartfelt stuff. But even harder for me not to.
So, to the mothers of teenagers and the teenage mothers, to the mothers who have choices and those who don’t, and all the mothers in between, HAPPY MOTHERS DAY.
You deserve every minute.
And if you wish, you can avail yourself of my MOTHERS DAY GIFT (available for THREE DAYS STARTING ON MOTHERS DAY), to download A FREE KINDLE BOOK.