Mother’s Day is fast approaching in the UK and I’m not going to be in for most of it as I’ll be at a little event in Scarborough called Sci-Fi Scarborough. So I thought I’d post this now. Whilst it’s fresh in my mind. I am fortunate to have two mothers in my life, one is the biological mother who raised me, and one has only come into my life in the past year, but she treats me as if I am her own. So the two letters below are for them.
You struggled for so long to have kids before you finally had me. I was born two months and two days early and had major heart surgery at six weeks old. They told you not to expect me to live beyond my fifth birthday and that if I did, I’d need another major heart surgery in my teen years. Well, I’m 33 in a few months, I outlived their expectations and I never needed that second operation. In two years I plan on celebrating my second 30th birthday. The anniversary of when they said I would be dead. I’ll raise a single glass that night, to you. The woman who brought me into this world.
I’m not going to pretend you were the perfect mother, or that I was the perfect child. We both know we lost our tempers with each other, especially in my pubescent years. Our fights were of epic proportions, although they never once involved physical violence. But I want to thank you for some things you did that have stayed with me.
You taught me how to cook. I would sit beside you on the kitchen counter from the age of eighteen months old and I learnt several of your recipes off by heart. I still remember the extra ounce of flour in the Victoria Sandwich, just as you had from your mother (to make it rise perfectly). And even all these years later, some of my happiest moments are when I’m in the kitchen, preparing food for others, or covered in flour from baking. And I still don’t like clearing up the mess.
I have fond memories of Saturday afternoons, the housework done, L and UP playing football outside and you and I dancing around the living room to Doris Day, Connie Francis and Rose Marie. You taught me to dance like no one was watching and sing like no one was listening. You didn’t care that you were tone deaf, you were having the time of your life and it showed. People would laugh at your singing, but I found it beautiful, because you were expressing yourself.
I was talking with SJ not long ago about your choice in clothes. Both of us laughing because you really didn’t give a damn what people thought about what you were wearing. You liked your leggings and sweatshirts and your tracksuits. It didn’t matter that they weren’t fashionable or that you were a woman of only 4’11 who was overweight. You were happy and if people didn’t like it, tough. You taught me that fashion isn’t everything, and that comfort makes you happy. You showed me that each and every person has the right to their own style. And I’ve carried that with me.
When I was threatened with a knife, held to my throat by a teenager I knew, you were the one who encouraged me to report him to the police. You were the one who lay on my bedroom floor on a blow up mattress for two weeks, every night, with the lights on full blast because I couldn’t sleep on my own. When I took ill after flying back to uni and was rushed to hospital, you flew and got a train to be with me, even though you were terrified of flying and had never caught a train before in your life. You were by my side within twenty-four hours and didn’t leave until I was back in halls.
There are things I wish I could go back and change, like telling you more often that I love you, like coming out before you died. But somehow, I think you knew both of those things. And I also think you brought Momma into my life, because you saw a gap that both of us needed filling and you wanted us both to be happy. I think about you daily and I think about the lessons you taught me. I will always love you.
Your eldest child.
I never in a million years imagined I would have you in my life. I never thought that we would get this close, or that I would be able to open up to you and talk to you about the things that have caused me so much pain. I never imagined that I would feel the pain at losing Mum lessen after so very long. But all those things have happened. Because you came into my life.
You are one of the most genuine and caring people I have ever had the pleasure of encountering. You give one hundred and ten percent of yourself into the relationships that mean something to you. And I know about the email where you just didn’t know what to do (yes she told me). But what you didn’t know is that you were doing it already, just by being there for me. Your warmth and compassion are beautiful things and I’m still amazed that I have been on the receiving end of both.
You’ve helped me to find my strength again. To start letting go of issues that aren’t helping my PTSD and to find professional help. You’ve been a listening ear when you didn’t have to be. Even before you became my Momma.
We both share a desire and need to help others, and we have a similar sense of humour. You’ve given me the courage to keep on trying.
I love you, Momma. I love you because you’re you. No other reason. And the things I have said in private, I mean all of them. You are so very dear to my heart.
Your surrogate only child.