Saturday, 19 June 2010

Not a daughter....


Father’s Day tomorrow and it has caught me by surprise. I’m wise to Mother’s Day – I watch it warily as it approaches, get my defences up and bung sticking plaster on my grazed heart. But Father’s Day snuck up behind me and bit me.

As I woke up this morning, I had a picture, so so clear, of my mother. She was sitting on the bench at the end of her garden, her hand resting on the head of her border collie, a mug of tea by her side. She loved her garden, loved her dog, loved the sun. Her face would break into a smile as I walked up the lawn. She’d pat the bench; I’d sit; we’d chat. I haven’t dared let myself think about how much I miss her. It is just too too painful. I miss my father too – both fathers, come to think of it. The first died when I was ten – of lung cancer. The second (my mother remarried) not so very long ago – of a heart attack.

Yesterday on Twitter, people were asking ‘what are you buying for your father?’ and it finally hit me (yes, I know, stupidly late) that I don’t have any parents; have no-one to buy presents for. I’m a mother but I’m no longer anyone’s daughter.

Not being a daughter hurts like hell – but being a mother can dig the pins in too. James had a taster boarding night at his new senior school last night and I felt ridiculously emotional. I wasn’t worried about him – I knew he’d love it. But it was this jump – from junior to senior – that freaked me out. I can remember, oh so clearly, shifting up to big school. It feels like yesterday – I can even feel the crisp cotton of my school blouse in my mind’s senses; the smell of my new wool blazer; the creak of my leather school bag.

I found myself welling up as we walked over new paths, down new corridors, talked to new teachers. This will be his life for the next seven years. Time doesn’t so much have a winged chariot as a supersonic jet.

‘It was great,’ he said as we picked him up this morning. ‘I can’t wait to go up. In fact, I think I’ll probably like to do weekly or even full boarding, rather than just the odd night.’

I bit back the tears again. It’s what I want – my boy to be happy and independent – but by heck it hurts as well. Sometimes I wonder why we sign up so readily for parenthood when it tears you to pieces so often.

So now I’m back home, sitting at my desk, looking at the sun outside. Adrian and James have gone down to watch the cricket and I’m alone in the house. And the tears come. A deluge of tears so fierce and violent I wonder if they’ll ever stop.

26 comments:

Rob-bear said...

Being orphaned by my parents' deaths a few years ago (both within less than a year), I understand a little bit of what you're saying. (My folks were in their mid-90s.)

I think of them often, and fondly.

Sad, still. They never got to meet their great-grandchildren, among many other things.

Yet I am a son, their son, as well as a grandfather. Twill always be thus, for me.

fairyhedgehog said...

How things creep up on us unawares.

I'm sorry for your pain - both the "not being a daughter" and the pain of letting go as a mother. It does hurt.

Sessha Batto said...

Oh Jane - I feel so clearly what you're going through. I never knew my parents - adoptive parents came rather late (I was 6) and I lost my adoptive mother far too early (I was still at Uni). My adoptive father is on the other side of the continent and I miss that parental influence. Like you my son is all excited to be heading off to high school next year, leaving his worry-wart mom behind for a slew of new and, hopefully,wonderful adventures. My hope is that he'll think fondly of me, like this, one day. If that happens, then I will have done a good job ;)

Victoria said...

You will always be a daughter. I never knew it would be so painful to watch them grow. But it is. Each new stage reminds us that time is whizzing by. I've been sad this week about finally potty training my youngest and having a nappy free house. You'd think I'd be pleased!

Mud in the City said...

I agree with Victoria. You are still their daughter, even if they aren't here. Their influence still affects you and your choices, you still consider them in you thoughts. We are each an amalgam of our parents, our friends, our children and our lovers. That impacts only fades, but doesn't disappear if they pass on.
xx

GoldenGirl said...

I agree too, you will always be a daughter. We are all defined by our relationships - daughter, mother, wife colleagues and friends. My goodness how I take my parents for granted, and of course we always have a moan about them! I hope that you will find some time tomorrow to remember both your fathers in some happy memories

Fran said...

I'm with you here. I don't have any around either. But don't be afraid to be sad.

Val said...

Nobody who's never lost their parent could understand the pain we go through. Both mine are gone - mum in '89, dad ten years later. I miss them both but was closer to my mum. The pain eases a bit, but only a bit and there's always an ache and a longing to see them again, talk to them, be with them.

I do still feel like a daughter, probably because I've got so many reminders of my mum - her sculpture is around me, I have loads of photos and all my memories and my dad recorded his memoirs though I don't listen to them very much these days for various reasons. And I feel like a daughter because I am what they made me, I've got bits of my mum in me and bits of my dad in me. You have too. I don't know how long ago you lost them (I'm new to your blog) but over time you'll meet parts of both your parents in yourself and they'll be there for you again. But not in the physical sense... sadly.

Frances said...

Jane, all that makes you the Jane that I know nothing compared to the Jane that is your son's mom.

What a lucky boy he is. He's got a wise, funny, imaginative, brave mom and dad.

It's families like yours that give me hope for the next generation.

Rejoice, dear Jane.

Rejoice, also all who live in that bonkers house with you. xo

Posie Rosie said...

Oh Jane, a time of change.....thinking of you, Posie x

Fennie said...

Oh Jane. Big hug. But imagine how awful it would be if you didn't love James so. Not every mother is blessed with the same feelings. What if there were just a black hole where love should be? Yes, time flies. I think it helps having two (children). One to fall back on. But you're right about the supersonic jet. Younger daughter is off on Monday to the Lleyn Peninsula. It's work. Yet I can remember going there on a case when I worked in the civil service and I can still remember most of the details and I was younger than she is now. I still feel I could go back to my desk I left almost 30 years ago. But the really sad thing for me was when the girls discovered that they wanted to be independent and suddenly you were reduced from being the sun in their galaxy to just a taxi-driver and provider of funds. They still promise to look after me though. The retirement homes in Bulgaria are excellent they are telling me.

Ladybird World Mother said...

You ARE a daughter. And a mother. How wonderful is that. It just doesn't seem so wonderful right now. I hope your tears dry soon, my friend. Perhaps you should just have a Jane Day. And we can all send you hugs and bloggy messages of cheer.
I'll think of you this Fathers Day, and we will raise a glass for your two fathers. Am sure they will be doing the same. Chin up. All will be well. xx

adelemitchell said...

thanks for this brave, honest and beautiful blog post.

Jon Storey said...

A very poignant piece, thank you....

CAMILLA said...

Hi Jane,

I still miss my mother deeply and often think of her, my father was not the best of father's sadly and he left when I was only seven but I did in late years forgive him for all the bad stuff to which he forgave too.

You will always still be a daughter Jane, and you are a fabulous mother to your son, our children grow up so quickly and of course we wan't the best for them, to know they are happy and free from harm, it's just that we find it hard sometimes to let go, I know I did.

Big hugs to you Jane, hold onto those precious memories of your dear parents.

xxx

Erica said...

I can't imagine you crying, you seem so strong in real life.

I hope father's day isn' too painful for you.

elizabethm said...

I agree with all this: you are always their daughter and j is always your son. They move closer and further away and back again, like a dance. The teenage years of holding close and letting go are hard but then comes the joy and relief when they are adults, they have come through and they still want to be with you. That is pretty wonderful too.

English Mum said...

We're clustered round Laura's laptop at Orlando Airport reading this, and we're all sending big hugs. You're always a daughter, and your a great Mum, letting him live his life, pushing your own feelings aside. Big hugs x

Mrs Worthington said...

Father's day or mother's day remember your parents and cry for them if you want, laugh too. Loss has a habit of replaying itself in different parts of your life when you are least expecting it, it never really goes away, even if you think you've dealt with it. Don't feel bad for being human, just remember when you cry it makes your nose big and red.

Lakeland Jo said...

Great post. Sums up so well how emotion can just subsume sometimes. My mum is still here, but dad not. I miss him terribly. Looks like mum might outlive me- that doesn't seem quite right. Life sure is damned tough at times.

Jan said...

I know just exactly what you mean ...realising youre no longer someones much loved daughter...but this is where past happinesses ( and past happenings!) flood in...and there's still delight in that.
And whatever age you are ( or your folks are) you will miss them always.
But I'm still a wife a sister a mum a muminlaw a granny...so lots of lovely stuff here..!

Exmoorjane said...

Ah, you lovely lot. I have had tears streaming all over again, reading your responses. Don't dare reply to each in turn as would be dripping all over the keyboard again, each and every time. THANK YOU. jxxxxxx

Lou said...

I'm wordless. Nice share thank you.

Irish Eyes said...

You were a grand daughter, and you still are my friend. You are the kind of mother any child could wish for, you have the intelligence to let James fly his wings and take his first tentative steps into the world.

For this courage you will be rewarded by the fact that, as he gets older, the place he will want to return to will be where you are. I know, I have two to prove it! Fly and they follow, follow and they fly.

I think your Mum came to let you know she is in a better place after all she went through in the end, and that you, her lovely daughter, well, you are doing exactly what you should do. Living life and remembering her.

It IS hard to face the fact that we are 'orphans' yet we are 21+; I was 16 when my Dad died [day after my birthday and 54 two days before Mum passed away]. I still think of both of them, I miss her so much it takes my breath away, yet I know they are reunited and she is happy.

You are one heck of a daughter and the best sort of Mum yourself.

IE
xxx

Exmoorjane said...

Oh IE, thank you my love....Ah, should have thought this one would chime a chord with you. Big hugs. jxxxx

English Mum said...

I've just realised I spelt 'you're' wrong. I have to comment. Can't bear bad spelling.

Anal, moi? xx