A Letter for Mum

Tuesday 7 April, 23.22:
"Am i so bad a mum that my girls cant say now n then hi mum. Im so lonely without u two u have no idea. I used to phone my parents every night and visit every week. That makes me feel bad cos i thought we were closer. X"

This text broke my heart more than any break up, failed friendship or academic failure ever has. She tells me it's not my fault that she's sad, but it's hard to believe this when everything I've said and done to her in the past is epiphanically illuminated in front of me and hindsight rears its ugly head once again. My relationship with my mother has undoubtedly become closer since I moved out, because it quickly put in to perspective how much she's done for me throughout my life, continues to do now and did before I was even born. I miss her presence more than I ever expected to; I miss her knocking on my bedroom door at 9 o'clock every night asking if I wanted a cup of tea and a slice of cake; I miss the way her face creases up when she finds something hysterically funny. But I never fully considered just how much moving out would impact her day to day life or her happiness at home, not as much as I should have done anyway.

My sister and I are IVF babies. My parents tried for 12 years before we were eventually conceived. When asked as a teenager what her greatest aspiration in life was, mum simply said "to be a mother", and she went through the most unfathomable amount of physical and mental pain to achieve that. I've known this my whole life, but this text and the conversation that followed was a real wake up call that my mother can feel as fragile and lonely as the rest of us, and that being a mother is her life's big accomplishment.

She said that the 12 years it took for us to be conceived feel like they've been ripped away in the three months since we moved out because she's so lonely and despondent. I live in my grandparents house, which my sister and I inherited when they died. My mother was born and raised in this house. In this conversation, she said "It saddens me to see my the disrespect of my parents home", and this cut me like a knife. In hindsight, we have disrespected it, and we haven't acted in a way that would make my grandparents and my mother proud. It's one of my biggest regrets that troubles me deeply everyday, knowing that my mum is disappointed, dejected and depressed because of something I'm partly responsible for.

I rarely spent time with my mum when I lived at home, and instead stayed locked in my bedroom reading and listening to music or watching television. She assumes that I think of her as an "uneducated monster" because I chose to be alone rather than sit with her, but this wasn't the case then and it certainly isn't now. My mother is a fiercely intelligent women with an infamously wicked sense of humour, who's perseverance and ability to overcome all that life has to throw at her astonishes me. I wish with all my heart that I could travel back in time to say and do what I should have when I had the chance instead of being a miserable teenager too wrapped up in my own self-pity to tell my own mother that I love her.

But as mum says, "you can't change the past but you can remould the future", and this eye-opener of a conversation was the kick up the arse I needed to do just that.

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