Monday, 18 May 2015

Proceed With Caution - Post Mother's Day

So Mother’s Day has ended in the US. In Blighty this had come and gone in March but my mind rolls over motherhood again and in particular mother’s day. You can’t really escape it in social media, in the run up there are loads of inspirational quotes about the bond between mother and daughter, mother and sons, lists of things to do to say thank you and how much you appreciate mother. It was when I read an article about mother’s day for those who have lost children that the seed was planted for what I am writing here. Another theme that does tend to come up during this time is forgiveness. That while things may have happened in some nether where things were said, now is the time in honour of mother’s day to forgive and move on. Please see appropriate card via moonpig.

This is always a strange time for me and I am sure that I am not alone. You see I do not speak to my mother. It is always a strange thing, when you meet someone new and there comes the point when you have to explain that your mother is not a factor in your life.

It’s been brought home to me more since I have my own daughter. The thing is that usually people presume she is dead, but then the inevitable happens so you have to prepare a statement to handle it. It’s a bit like Jenny Garp in ‘The World According to Garp’ by John Irving. You find a way to put across an awkward situation that happened ages ago using succinct sentences.

One of the trends that I have realised is that when faced with a scenario like this, a lot of people want to ‘fix’ it. They ask about the time that has passed, they remark about how long it’s been and about letting go and forgiveness. They insert the relevant Dr Phil-Oprah-Deepak-Iyanla platitude. I used to get really angry about it, I used to feel shame because I felt like there was something that was wrong again that I needed to fix. Because, clearly I wasn't going through enough just dealing with the aftermath of it all. A few years ago, something happened which changed my perspective.

Actually they were two separate incidents. One incident was talking to my brother and a friend about an old memory. My brother and I were laughing about it but our friend wasn't. She was a bit horrified and challenged us to realise that our humour was a guard; it was how we dealt with the awful things that happened when we were kids. It made us both look at our past with very different eyes.

The second incident was when the lead from Lost Prophets was arrested. I wondered about those poor children who will grow in time and find out what was done to them and that the person who was charged with loving them and caring for them, exploited them. I wondered how the world would treat them and then I thought about them on mother’s day, hearing some of the platitudes that I have heard. Believe me; I did not suffer in anyway near as much as those children. I was not sexually exploited. Around the same time, I was asked the usual question about making contact, and it began with, “She’s probably getting old now, do you really want not contacting her to be on your conscience?” My counter questions were, “Would anyone, who knew the identities of those children ask them the same question when they got older? Would it be right? Does anyone ask Tina Turner, the last time she saw Ike and that maybe things had gone on long enough and she should bury the hatchet?” No because those are extreme examples of abuse. In their extremity, we allow the victims to make their decisions. We weigh up the crime and say, “Actually, I can understand why they want to move on without those people in their lives.” But for people who have experienced what some may deem lower level abuse, the question is asked of the victim in many different ways, “How are YOU going to solve this?”

We have become so used to the public spectacle. A lot of this started with the talk shows, the Sally Jessie Raphael, Jerry Springer, hell Oprah played her part too. We watch families fall apart and demand they resolve it in an hour for our entertainment. Our morbid delight that thank fuck it isn't us up there. This has morphed into Big Brother, Ex on the Beach and countless other ‘reality’ shows. I am sure that Stephen King’s Running Man is not far behind. The legacy of that for me are a lot of people who want to diagnose and fix you because what you are going through defies a norm that they have in mind. I am by my nature and the choices I have made, a confrontational person in the eyes of many. The default from some is to assume that this is some family feud because I didn't keep quiet. The truth is so much more complicated. This is challenged every damn day, especially when raising my daughter.

It is a balancing act and then it’s an internal war and then it mutates into something else. This barrage of parenting advice from everywhere, applying the things I have learned in counselling, the things I see and hear and we haven’t even got to Secondary school yet.

One of the things I am grateful for is the people I surround myself with and in an unusual twist, I am grateful for Facebook. I don’t just friend anyone on Facebook, I choose carefully and the things I see on my timeline reflect this. These are folks with great humour and intelligence, mothers who are sometimes just as bewildered as me at the prospect of motherhood. It’s nice and refreshing, especially in the face of those who would only present things as perfect screenshots and I appreciate it, I appreciate it more on days like today when my daughter challenges me. The people that I choose to have  in my life remind me of Roald Dahl’s Matilda, they remind me that I am not alone and that I do not have ‘let bygones be bygones’ to fulfil a strange idea of closure courtesy of Hallmark.

So what am I saying? What is my helpful Geraldo Riviera summary. Fuck knows! Just kidding. I am not going to tell anyone to do a damn thing they don’t want to. Do what is right for you, find resolution and peace in the way that you need to. While some folks have spent their time telling me how to find peace about the situation, very few of the same have asked, “How are you about the situation?” Not everything has to be perfectly resolved to the specifications of others. I think that today was just a day to remind myself what I have been through, what I am going through and the legacy that I deal with everyday. To pluck the fruit from the seed planted months ago.

Now take care of yourselves and….oh bollocks!!


  1. Wow!! Beautifully written and heart felt. I have had the pleasure of calling you a close friend for 8 years now (and counting) and know how much this topic resonates with you.I think you articulated your emotions and thoughts clearly. I feel that you have made your peace with it, and it is what it is. *he says in a fake LA accent* No need for ceremony or pomp, just honest and open dialogue, no need for shame or fear. Keep writing and serving truth. Oby x

    1. Thanks so much for your kindness, you awesome dude!