I just wanted to drop you a line to say that you did good. I’m grown up now and I’m really starting to get the whole ‘being my mum‘ thing.
I’ve written about my dad before. It’s more difficult to write about you though because our relationship is more complicated. You were the main advice giver, always. You told me I was smart. You told me I was beautiful. You told me I was talented.
You also had to tell me heaps of things that I didn’t want to hear. You told me I needed to exercise and watch my weight. You told me my singing voice needed development. You told me that bitch in high school was going to betray me. You told me that I needed to pay my own rent because you sure as hell weren’t going to pay it for me.
My father never told me any of that. I never hated him for any of that. You strapped on your armour and went in to battle for a cause where I was the main beneficiary. It was extraordinarily selfless of you. No one wants to be the consequence police, but you always were. The Ambassador of The Worst Case Scenario. Sometimes I laugh about it, often with you, but it was a huge job to take on and you did an amazing job.
I turned out pretty good. I’m a functional adult and most people like me. I pay my own rent and I even eat vegetables every day. I have a career that I adore and a man who delights me. None of this happened by accident. It happened because you built me up when I needed it, you brought me down when I needed it, you told me you loved me when I needed it and you told me I was being a shit when I needed it.
I was a fierce child. I don’t mean difficult, I mean fierce. I’ve always had opinions, I’ve never conformed, I’ve ‘paddled my own canoe‘ as you often like to say. I was born with a major bitch streak that you never let get out of control. It took hard work to make me use it for good instead of evil. I remember. Every time I said something that was a little too sassy, I got a rundown in the car on the way home. ‘Sweetie, I know you thought you were being funny but how do you think that person felt when you said that?‘. Those conversations weren’t fun for me and I’m pretty damn sure they weren’t fun for you but they were so necessary. Thank you for persevering, even when you knew you were making me feel bad. It was worth it.
I used to watch some of the other girls my age chuck tantrums after fights with their mothers. I’d watch these mothers coddle and cajole their daughters. The daughters would repeat their tantrums again and again and be rewarded with attention again and again. I tried it a few times and you told me to get over myself. Diva behavior was never tolerated in your house. You’d roll your eyes and tell me to let you know when I was done being a princess. I was taught pretty bloody quickly that being a little cow got me nowhere.
I hope this doesn’t read like we had/have a difficult relationship. We don’t at all. We’re best mates. We always have been. You’ve had a harder job being in my life than anyone else ever has. That’s not to say I was a rotten child, but I was a child who needed to be taught some shit. So you rolled up your sleeves and you bloody well did it. I’m not a mother, but I am a grown up and I understand things more clearly than I did when I was a kid. I always knew I had a great mum, but now I really, really appreciate how important that is.
For the other mothers out there, I want you to know, if your toddler has chucked a tanty because you won’t give him a third chocolate, you’re doing good. If that same toddler greets you like a superstar after childcare, you’re doing good. If your teenaged daughter has the shits because you won’t buy her an iPhone for her birthday, you’re doing good. If that same teenaged daughter crawls on to your lap when she’s just had her heart broken, you’re doing good. If you have grown up children who can’t think of anything better than spending a weekend with you, you’re doing good.
As for my mum? You did good. You did bloody good. Now pour yourself a glass of red wine, you big sissy, and quit your blubbering. I love you.