Wednesday, 26 May 2010

On Mothering


Be warned, this isn’t my usual chipper ‘isn’t life a hoot’ type of blog. It’s a bit sad really. I am not entirely sure why but I’ve been feeling a bit ‘vulnerable’ shall we say. Maybe I’ve got the opposite of SAD and go gloomy as a reaction to the rest of the world hurtling into shorts and throwing sausages on the barbecue. Maybe it’s because I’ve finished my ‘baby’ - Samael – my YA supernatural romance novel (click on the link on the sidebar if you’d like to read a taster) and I feel a bit bereft. Or maybe it’s because my real ‘baby’ (all eleven hulking years of him) is away for the week and I’m getting premonitions (okay, seven years too early) of being an empty nester. I dunno. But as I sat at my PC, trying to write a feature on Lava Shells massage (another story) I found myself tearing up.


I got to thinking about how being a mother shifts your entire world. No matter how cavalier you think you are, however nonchalant, however non-maternal really, it changes you, deep down to the cellular level. Okay, bottom line, I worry. My lad is doing the stuff I really want him to do – he’s off with his school, doing gung-ho action stuff (kayaking, abseiling, rafting, hiking) and all the usual team and confidence building malarkey. I love that he’s there, with his friends, that he’s stretching himself and having fun but it’s impossible not to think ‘what if...’

Impossible, right now, not to think of that terrible coach crash in Cumbria. How on earth would it feel? How could you cope? I was in buckets as I watched the news. How would I feel if the mothering was ripped out of me?

I knew, when I started writing Samael that mothering was a deep theme in the book but, as I came to the climax, I was surprised to find how pivotal it was and how emotional it made me writing about it. Not just about how I mother but about my own mother (who died eighteen months ago) and about how a legacy of mothering can pass down through the generations. And how, equally, that legacy can be changed, if you are mindful enough about it – if you make the decision to do things differently.

And then, in the strange way that life has of throwing up meaningful coincidences, synchronicities, I was sent a copy of The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Penguin). It was ‘about nannies’ apparently and I wasn’t terribly overwhelmed at the premise. But as I read, I realised it was all about mothering. Good mothering, bad mothering, no mothering at all. And about choices, about the power to change – if one has the guts and the will. I was, quite frankly, bowled away by it. It’s set in the Deep South of the US, in the sixties (the decade in which I was a child) in a world where white middle-class mothers hand over the care of their children to black ‘maids’. The story is filtered through three points of view. Aibileen who lost her own son and is now raising her seventeenth white child. Minny, rebellious and lippy but kind-hearted and nursing her own grief. And Skeeter, a decent-hearted college girl who yearns to be a writer and doesn’t want to become just another wife and mother. Their voices (superbly captured) weave a compelling tale of secrets, ignorance, love, betrayal and friendship. It is shocking, appalling, uplifting and also very funny. I was transfixed. I stayed up one whole night, reading until I thought my eyes would drop out.



So, there we have it. Me, listening to Moby for some bizarre reason and feeling my heart whimpering. Then Adrian calls down the stairs – ‘they’ve got a blog up on the school website. You can see what they’re up to’ – and I’m there, with my magnifying glass, trying to figure out which of the boys in wetsuits and helmets is mine. Not really mine, just borrowed (I know, I know), but oh so loved and, for this moment at least, oh so safe. And I say a quiet prayer of deep thanks for my good fortune – and send out a prayer of deepest sorrow for those whom fate has dealt the hardest cruelest cards. Even when the child has gone, we still remain mothers to the core.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

My son is nearly eight, and I am always trying to block out the "what-if's". I know I can't wrap him in cotton wool, and keep him inside all the time, but it is tempting.
Jacqueline

Belgravia wife - sort of said...

Hi I loved reading this I am life's eternal optimist but I am in a slightly dodgy patch - the husband of a very dear is in hospital dying and another great friend is going through very arduous cancer treatment - she's 36 with two children . I find myself very wobbly. I'm actually drafting a post on this as it's the one I quote to my children when they are feeling wobbly, from Dickens, Oliver Twist:

' "It opens the lungs, washes the countenance, exercises the eyes and softens down the temper." Said Mr. Bumble "So cry away." ' xx

Lottie said...

Beautiful post. Can't wait read the book. You are right Mothering goes right through to the core and once there can never be removed come what may. Hope you feel less teary soon.
Lottie -x-

Leah Petersen said...

Oh, gosh, that's just beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time. I'm weepy today as it is. (Could be the lack of sleep from the holding-barfing-kid's-head position last night.)

*sigh*

Motherhood.

sessha_battousai said...

Beautiful post Jane. As my son gets ready to head off to high school and a bit further out of my axis of safety I wonder how I'll manage to cope when the day comes and he's off on his own. Guess he wouldn't appreciate it if I suddenly decided to home school him next year instead! So, I'll let him go and cross all my fingers and toes that he will stay out of harm's way (if you see me, that's why I'm walking funny)

Tracy Tidswell said...

I can totally relate to this. I listened to the news of the cumbria crash with tears in my eyes and then went and hugged my two girls. My eldest is only 9 but it's gone so quickly the next 9 years will surely go even quicker. (At the minute she's runnning up and down the street with her skirt tucked in her knickers.)So I am resolved not to shout at them later because in 10 years I'll look back at this time and want it back.
Thank you x
ps Please don't hold me to the not shouting at them bit, it's been a long day!

Mary Poppins said...

Heartwarming post, coming up to the 5th anniversary of when I lost my baby Joshua, am I still his mother even though he isn't here with me, I often wonder that....

xx

Tattie Weasle said...

It is elemental this mothering stuff even for the not so good ones and we all do the what ifs to protect ourselves a bit like having an innoculation for one day they will fly hopefully to fulfill their lives and that great potential. I am always doing what ifs I try to ignore it but am pathetically useless!

Exmoorjane said...

Oh wow, lovely comments...
Jacqueline - no, we can't wrap them in cotton wool but it's so damn hard, isn't it?

Belgravia - oh hon, can totally relate. have had similar of late and just so tough. Love Mr Bumple quote. *hug*

Lottie: Thank you..yup, can't be cut away, can it? DO read The Help - it's amazing.

Leah - oh heck, lack of sleep definitely does that...hope the barfing is over now.

Sessha - mine would deck me if I suggested home schooling! That's the thing - they love to be independent; it's just us sad souls who feel left behind.

Tracy - I think a bit of shouting (not too much but a bit) is actually part of the parenting game. Always a little suspicious of mothers who Never Ever shout. And yup, the years seriously fly.

Mary: Of course you are, hon. Never doubt it. Etched on the soul

Grace said...

Argh Moby's potent when you're feeling vulnerable! Having said that, I read your post with the credits sountrack of Monsters vs Aliens in the background and I have a lump in my throat. But that's what I've realised too since becoming a mother - it doesn't take much to make me cry. Even hearing about the incidences where everyone came through fine has me in floods of tears. Thanks for sharing.

elizabethm said...

You are utterly right. Mothering is a permanent state. I have just returned from a couple of days with my beloved daughter watching her mothering her six month old baby. It is a total deep joy to see her happiness and her pleasure in him yet her own babyhood is surely only days ago, real and vivid behind my eyelids. And now there she is, grown, loving, calm and warm, passing it on. Glad your own boy is safe and having a cracking time!

Exmoorjane said...

Tattie - elemental is a good word. Been thinking of you lately...hoping all okay... xxx

Grace - I hadn't listened to Moby for years and thought it would be good background music. What IS it about it? Wasn't even listening to the words... But yup, anything can make me cry too - and especially the happy stuff. Mad, innit?


Elizabeth: Ah, I'd seen your tweets about your daughter. How wonderful. Bet there will be a lovely legacy in your family. xx

mummakesafilm said...

Lovely post. You do change forever the second you become a mum. All-consuming, exhausting, relentless, worrying, but wonderful and wouldn't be without it.

geekymummy said...

Wonderful post. Every day with our kids is a blessing. I've ordered that book for my nightstand pile,. thanks for the review, looking forward to it. And congrats on completing your book, it sounds brilliant.

Kate said...

What a moving post. Yes - being a mother is frankly terrifying. Once you become that person one's vulnerablility is limitless. I discovered that big-time over the past couple of years as I faced the prospect of my kids growing up without me. One day at a time... if we're all here today, we're all ok.... kind of thing. And yes - my heart goes out to those poor parents and families of those kids in Keswick. It's the random unfairness of life which seems so bleak that all one can do is bllocck it out a lot of the time I think.

Kate said...

Or even block it out!

Alison Cross said...

Ah - what a lovely, lovely post :-)

I really feel for you Jane.

I never knew that it was possible to love another creature as much as I love my son - and, in almost direct proportion, that brings a host of nameless fears along with it.

One of his school friends was killed in an accident three weeks ago and I think of the unutterable sorrow of that bereaved mother almost every time I see my own son.

I see him growing up and know that he'll not need me soon. And in my head I know that this is EXACTLY how it should be, but my heart still hurts.

(((hug)))

and for 'Belgravia wife - sort of'
(((((hug))))) to you too :-)

Ali x

impoftheyard said...

I visited your blog for the first time today (from the link on Jon Storey's blog. I found it moving and the tears started to flow as I read the comments. I am not a mum but I could not envisage the world without my nieces and nephew. As I grow older I sometimes have these terrible fears for my friends and family who are also growing older (funny that?). Anyway, thanks for a thought provoking and moving post. I shall definitely look out for the book you mentioned.

Tishtashtoys said...

Lovely blog, my son is 4 and the most precious thing to me (along with his sister who is 8). The book you mentioned sounds great, reminds me of the Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, being set in the deep south etc. I could do with a new read so I'm off to Amazon now! Thanks.

Preseli Mags said...

Mothering is such a tug of war between wanting them to be out in the big wide world having a great time and needing them at home where you can see that they are safe. The Cumbria crash made me hug mine a little closer too. Lovely blog Jane.

Calico Kate said...

Really lovely piece EJ.
CKx

Leah Petersen said...

Jane,

I knew this made me think of something. I finally remembered.

http://leahpetersen.blogspot.com/2010/04/short-story-of-nights-then-and-now.html

Ahhh, motherhood.

Fran said...

Yep. Mummyism is for ever. In fact, I'm not sure it's not harder once they're older and have left and you're just not part of their lives in the same way. The mummyism doesn't feel any less.

Barb-Central Texas said...

A thousand thanks for this post, Jane! My 26 year old daughter has gone to the coast for the weekend with some friends, and I've been feeling neurotic and annoyed with myself for worrying. I'm so glad to be reminded that worrying is just part of being a mother, no matter how old one's kids are!

Mark said...

And fathers too. when my children leave I shall be bereft

伯臻 said...

春宮性愛教學taiwan sex大奶子台灣情色論壇台灣av女優一夜情留言板女生裸體色情電話a網情色片美女裸照成人笑話巨乳學院裸體寫真av寫真走光照巨奶做愛技巧a圖片淫亂撫摸情色聊天少婦自拍淫娃一夜情聊天av情色本土av女生高潮色情av成人情色貼圖一夜情留言成人圖庫亞洲成人口交技巧性經驗成人18三點全露蕩婦情色自拍貼圖成人漫畫成人漫畫

JarrettLoaiza怡伶 said...

色聊天室ipkgirl 米克情色論壇 yam交友aio 同志色教館et免費影片下載 情人視訊專區 免費看avdvd 單身聯誼 a 片天堂 武則天視訊聊天室 love104影音視訊網 成人情色視訊網 sex成人小說,777成人區 love104影音live秀 台灣情色綜合論壇 0401網愛聊天室 卡通aa片免費看sexy girl d736 免費聊天室 557557視訊交友 電話視訊交友 影音交友lover99 18h mm cg com 情慾av383日本視訊 情色聊天室 ez104 日本同志色教館 avdvd 色妹妹情色網85cc免費影片 視訊辣妹 qq 美美色網 免費成人動漫 聊天室交友primo 視訊交友 aooyy com 日本a v無碼短片 情色34c視訊交友 熟女無碼a片 38ga成人網 線上a片-免費影片 月宮貼圖色妹妹嘟嘟情人色網 彩虹情人視訊交友網 後宮-成人影片 免費視訊美女 完美女人視訊網 ez檳榔西施摸奶影片 性愛視訊交友 優質成人 xd成人圖區 視訊聊天室yani s101成人大喇叭 嘟嘟成年網 色美媚視訊美女 片免費aa免費視訊聊天論壇 免費試看av免費成人電影

Humdrum Mum said...

Lovely piece, had a lump in my throat during the first para. Well written - HMx

My KindofCrazy said...

Jane, thanks for sharing a little piece of your soul with the world. No matter what country, we mothers share a common bond of worrying about the what ifs. A wise mother once said to me, "Why worry about that which is out of our hands?" When I find I'm going down that path, I remind myself of those words, and it seems to deflate my concerns.
With love from across the Pond,
Janine

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Well done for making him self-confident and adventurous enough to go off abseiling and kayaking .
And coping with the panic the very thought of it all brings on !!

Brown Dog said...

Oh, Jane, I'm reading this as I'm sitting up late, passing the time as I'm waiting to wake my boy up to send him off on his school trip to France. Daren't go to sleep in case I miss the early alarm, and know I wouldn't sleep anyway - it's so hard letting them go, isn't it, but so important, too. I know he'll have a wonderful time, as I hope James did too. Hope he's soon, if not already, safe home with lots of fabulous stories and great memories.

退 said...

仇恨是一把雙刃劍,傷了別人,也傷了自己.........................

English Mum said...

Amen to that, darling girl.Virtual tissue and hug for your tears too xx

CAMILLA said...

Dear Jane, sorry for coming here late, just trying to catch up.

A very moving post Jane, always hard I feel to not worry about our children, so difficult to let go but know it's what will be the making of them.

Bet James had a fabulous time and had lots to tell you about that trip.

xxx