It’s all of this blog. The days out, the diagnosis of yet another life challenging illness or difference, the juggling car journeys around 5 different activities spread across town with overlapping start and finish times. It’s only being good at making quick meals with tuna in and knowing (or not) where PE kit is, or ranting at the one spending all her lunch money on sneaky snacks or worrying that one of them isn’t eating enough. It’s GCSE revision and flattened confidence and the highs of opening the envelopes and the lows of not doing well on a long awaited day to shine. It’s making a cake to celebrate with optimism and being relieved when the results are good but knowing you would have made the cake about hard work and effort if they hadn’t been. It’s being brutal when they need encouraging to work harder, knowing when sympathy would be the wrong thing and always being there when the world crumbles around them.
It’s not lifting the child who bullied your kid up by the collar and shaking them, even when you want to. It’s breathing in and modeling the right response, the measured response, even when you are raging. It’s not using your child to make a point in your own personal battle and it is learning how to help them fight their own, with you by their side until the moment is right.
Motherhood is the breathless cradling of a newborn and the dark nights of the SCBU ward, the joy of the naming party and the low of a funeral. It is bickering and sibling solidarity, knowing you have to help them overcome one and that sometimes the second will be waged against you – but both are your legacy. Motherhood is parents evening and homework and deciding what matters and what can take a running jump. It’s arguing with people who see a slice of your child and make a whole picture from it.
And it is all of this. (Be gentle with me, I’m scared of video-ing myself!)
Sometimes it is just about gritting your teeth and coming second, being the person who wipes the noses and stays up all night while breath doesn’t come and coughing doesn’t stop. It’s sitting in the bathroom with the shower running until late at night trying to ease a struggling chest. It’s knowing when to call the doctor and taking the flak when you arrive at the 2am walk in centre with a miraculously recovered child. It’s being brave and facing your fears when you don’t want to know how ill they might be but only you can make the decisions. It’s persuading a frightened teen to sign the consent form for an operation that will hurt because you know it will make life better and being there when she comes round from the operation, every time.
And you might wonder, in the face of all that, why a person would do that 6 times, for all the work and all the effort and the worry, the fear, the tears and frustration. (I never even mentioned messy bedrooms and dirty laundry under the bed, did I?)
But the answer comes in every step, both toddler firsts and teenage leaps of faith, in hearing them overcome a fear of flight (learned at my own knee) to gush excitedly about doing loop the loops and barrel rolls. It watching them comfort each other in grief and scream and whoop in joy as one stands up on stage and blows the audience away.
Motherhood is, as Josie so adequately said, “Being there.”
Disclosure: this post was written in collaboration with the Cussons #voiceofmums campaign, giving voice to real mums on the subject of motherhood as they launch the new product for easing snuffly noses Cussons Comfort to Snuffly Noses.