Having LP has made me think about what type of parent I would like to be. With this in mind I have thought a lot about my childhood, my parents and my experiences. I think that with your own upbringing when looking at yourself as a parent, you have to repeat the things you liked and do things differently that you didn’t like or agree with.
It is because of this that I have decided to write about my mother. This is a topic that I don’t speak much about, and that I haven’t written about in any depth before. This may be a long blog entry.
My mother had me when she was 27. I was the youngest of three children, and all of us had different fathers. To us, this was irrelevant. We were siblings. There was never any ‘half’ anything. My oldest brother is no longer in my life – that is a whole different blog post! But my other brother is very much my brother, our different dads has never been an issue.
I was born at 28 weeks. 3 months early. I was in an incubator for some time, and was tiny, but apart from that, I was fully formed and had no long-lasting medical problems. For that, I feel very lucky!
My mother and father split up when I was about 6 months old. He turned into a ‘Sunday Dad’ and set up home with his new partner. When I was about 18 months, my mother met my ‘Dad’ – who she married when I was 3. My biological father disappeared when she met my ‘Dad’, as he decided I had a new father figure in my life and so he wasn’t going to be around, or pay maintenance, as I had someone else to provide for me.
So I grew up thinking that my ‘Dad’ was my father. I never questioned my family history. My Dad was all I’d ever known. Until I got to about 10. My mother sat me down, told me that my Dad wasn’t my Dad and gave me a bunch of photos that she’d kept aside of my father and I when I was a baby. At this point I wasn’t upset. I guess I was shocked. But to be honest, I wasn’t bothered. I had a mum and a dad who loved me, and I was in the middle of a great childhood. I put the photos in an album and put them to the back of a cupboard and carried on with my life – the only thing I could do as a ten year old!
Everything was then fine until I was about 14. I used to go to bed at night and hear my parents arguing downstairs. Kitchen cupboard doors would slam and they’d be raised voices. This happened most nights but I never mentioned anything to either of them. When I was 15, on my parents’ anniversary weekend, they had their first major argument in front of me. It ended with my Mum smacking my Dad in the face in the garden and me running upstairs, hiding in my room and crying hysterically. I had never seen anything like that before. My Dad then moved out for a week, until they decided it was best they give things another go, and he moved back in again.
Nothing changed, but then again nothing was the same again either. The arguments in the evening continued. The only difference now was that there was a constant atmosphere the rest of the time too. A great big giant pink elephant in the room. It was horrible to live through.
I was due to start my GCSE exams the following Summer when I was 16, and a couple of weeks before I started to hear during the arguments that my Dad was going to leave after my exams. This was a repeated comment and I used to lay awake every night crying at the thought of my family breaking apart again and of life as I knew it being over.
One morning, a week before my GCSE’s started, I came downstairs to find my Dad shaving in the bathroom. I went and sat next to him on the toilet seat and said to him that I knew he was going to leave after my exams and that I would rather he left before them, at least that way I would be able to concentrate on the exams without this bubble hanging over me.
My Dad left the following weekend, and my exams started on the Monday. I ended up with 2 A’s, 5 B’s, 2 C’s and a D. Not bad considering.
As soon as my Dad left my mother decided that he was no longer my Dad, as biologically he wasn’t my father at all. She tried to stop him seeing me and when he persisted she then tried to turn me against him – telling me all the gory details of their relationship, things a 16-year-old really shouldn’t be hearing about.
I started college in the September following my GCSE’s and had spent the summer working in Woolworth’s as much as I could, mainly to not be at home with my mother – she needed me to be there to support her as her marriage had collapsed but I also needed her to support me, as my Dad wasn’t around any more, but all she cared about was erasing him from my life. It meant that we spent a whole summer avoiding each other.
The next few months rolled by and I loved college. College was an escape for me – I was academic, I loved learning, I made new friends and I could be me. School had always been difficult for me, as I had been bullied and turned introvert and reclusive. College gave me a chance to get back out of my shell.
Unfortunately, in December, my home life came to a head. On the 2nd December at 2am in the morning, when I was 17, my Mother gave me a choice. Either stay at home living with her and have nothing to do with my Dad, or leave and have my Dad as part of my life.
So I left. My boyfriend at the time came and picked me up and I lived in his spare room for the next 3 weeks. We then went to Ireland for Xmas. I had never been away from my parents at Christmas before. I had never been on a plane before, and I have never felt so lonely as I did that Xmas.
I juggled college, working at Woolworth’s and trying to find somewhere to live for the next few weeks. I went to the council who told me that unfortunately, even though I was only 17, I wasn’t an ethnic minority or pregnant so they couldn’t help me with accommodation. I then went to the benefits people who said that as I was working 16 hours a week, rather than their maximum of 12 hours a week, I wasn’t entitled to any benefits either. I then realised that something had to give. So at the end of my first term at college, I dropped out. I felt such a failure but I knew I had to stand on my own two feet. So I worked full-time and moved into a house share at the end of January, where I continued to live for 5 years.
As the months went by I tried to talk to my mother. I was happy, of sorts, where I was. I had a roof over my head and a job, so it wasn’t the end of the world. I was just independent a lot earlier than I had hoped to be. But I still wanted my family in my life. I saw my mother every few months and every time we had a lovely day and then she would start slagging off my Dad as I was about to head home. This became so draining. But I still persevered. After all, as everyone says, you only get one mum.
I asked my mother, when I was about 18, if I could borrow the family photo albums. I wanted to make copies of my baby photos. She threw them at me, told me to keep them and told me that I wasn’t her child, so she didn’t need the albums. I still have them, 10 years later, in my loft. She never wanted them back.
I used to get a lot of text message abuse from her, about my Dad, personal attacks on me – she’d regularly say that her friends had seen me out drinking and that I looked like a slag etc. She was always full of compliments!
The years rolled by, and I made sure I never missed her birthday or Mother’s Day. I would buy her a card that said as little as possible, which is very hard when you try. They all say ‘You’re the Best Mum’, ‘Mum in a Million’, ‘I Couldn’t Ask For A Better Mum’. I tried to find one that would say purely Happy Mother’s Day. This carried on until I was 21, and I didn’t receive a Birthday Card, Birthday text, Birthday phone call. Yes, our relationship wasn’t great at all. We hardly saw each other. But we had always sent cards. At this point I decided to stop sending her cards too. It was always an emotional thing for me, choosing cards, so I stopped sending them, and felt like a weight had lifted.
When I was 23 I got engaged. It was at this point that I thought I should be honest with my mother. Very difficult, as we hadn’t had a decent conversation in months.
When I was 17, and moved out of home, I had got in contact with my biological father. I hadn’t, up until this point, told my mother that he was in my life. Saying he was in my life is a bit rich – I saw him probably less than once a year, and his wife and I exchanged emails about once a month. But nevertheless, they were there, and they could be at my wedding. So I had to tell my mother about them.
I chickened out, and sent her a text message saying that my biological dad and his wife, plus my Dad and his new partner, could be at our wedding. To this I received a barrage of abuse. The main gist of it was that I was ‘parading her exes in front of her’. To cut a long story short, just after we got engaged, my mother decided she couldn’t come to our wedding. It was at this point that I decided to keep more distance between her and I, and I haven’t physically seen her since. 5 years.
We got married just over a year later, and I can honestly say that I did not even think about my mother on the wedding day. People had varying views and thought I should at least invite her. But she had made her feelings clear. I didn’t see the point in wasting an invitation.
I didn’t hear from her around the wedding date, she didn’t make contact at all. But she did send me a text message three months later to say that the weather had been nice on the wedding day. She always had a habit of texting me out of the blue, at random, and upsetting me. So I responded that yes the weather had been fantastic. But why was she texting now? The wedding was three months ago. She responded that it felt like unfinished business as she hadn’t been in contact. Apparently she felt better now that she’s text.
She then sent me a text message in September 2010. A year after the previous text. She text to say that she was moving house that weekend and thought I should know. From knowing the way she worked, I knew that she wanted me to go to her house that weekend, to beg her to stay or help her move. But I wasn’t playing games. I was a married woman who had dealt with her rubbish for nearly 10 years. I had mixed feelings too as she was moving from the house I grew up in, the only house I had ever known as a child, a house that held so many memories for me. But a house that had felt so cold and empty the handful of times I had been there since moving out. I knew that my mother hadn’t been happy there for years. So I responded that I hoped she was happier in her new home, and that we too were looking to move in the December.
I then sent her a text message about a month later saying that we were moving from the area, and I wanted to see her before we moved to try and build bridges for the future. I explained that I had a great childhood, and the last few years had been difficult for both of us and that we had both made mistakes towards each other and said things that we regret. I couldn’t forgive or forget, but I could try to put it behind me and start afresh, so that when we had children she could have a relationship with them. I didn’t want her missing out on the chance to have grandchildren just because we hadn’t got on for years. She was a great mother to me when I was growing up, and I wanted her to have something to show for that.
She responded that she didn’t see the point in meeting, that she could never forgive or forget and so there was no point being in each other’s lives. After all, I hadn’t invited her to my Wedding….!
We moved in December, and I received another text message from my mother in February 2011. She text saying that she hoped we had settled into our new home. So I responded – Yes, we were happy, and as the saying goes, new house, new baby! She was going to be a Grandmother and Baby was due 25th August.
I received a short response. ‘Good Luck With That’
That told me all I needed to hear, and I decided at that point that I could not keep trying to have a relationship with that woman. She had upset me far too many times, and now that we were having a baby there was no way that I could let her anywhere near my baby. I would not let my baby be upset by her, and she obviously didn’t care that I was having a baby. So C’est la vie. She would not be part of our lives.
I didn’t reply to her message, and I received another message in the July saying that she hoped my labour went well. I also ignored this message.
When LP arrived in August, I didn’t tell her. I purposely didn’t send her a text or ring her. I felt that she had no right to know anything about our child, or any right to know anything about our lives.
I received a message from her in February that said ‘Now that you yourselves are parents, can you even conceive that the perfect much-loved little Daughter you hold in your arms right now, might someday not even want you at her wedding? No, inconceivable isn’t it? but believe you me, it happens. Good Luck’
To think that I had not heard from her in months, and she had obviously heard from a relative that we had the baby – we’re not a big family, and my mother doesn’t have anything to do with anyone, which is why it took 6 months for her to hear about our daughter. Instead of a nice, congratulations text, that was what I received.
My mother chose to not come to our Wedding, yet she always throws that back at me. Just like the awful Christmas I spent in Ireland – she would always say how she spent it home alone with a tin of soup and the cat. My mother would never let go of anything.
I responded to the text ‘I gave you the opportunity before we moved house of putting the past behind us and trying to build on a future in each other’s lives. You said you couldn’t forget all that had happened. I then told you I was pregnant, expecting your grandchild, and the only response I received was ‘Good Luck with that.’ I think that was enough of an indication that you didn’t want to be part of mine or my future child’s life. So I then chose to ignore your next text towards the end of my pregnancy and not contact you, hoping that you would understand that I can’t engage in random conversations with you if you aren’t going to be part of our lives. I have given you the opportunity to move on and have a relationship with me so many times and I cannot do that any more. Each time you make contact out of the blue it is only to hurt me, to try to make me feel how you have felt in the past. I want to live the life I have now and not keep dwelling on the years that have gone by. I no longer want a relationship of any sort with you, and haven’t tried to have a relationship with you and haven’t contacted you for over a year now. You have made your feelings clear repeatedly and I would appreciate it if you could now stop contacting me.’
I then had one word back from her ‘Happy’
And I hadn’t heard from her since.
The reason I really wrote all this, was because Tuesday was Dave and I’s 3rd Wedding Anniversary. Our wedding day was the best day of my life. I spent the day surrounded by everyone that cared about us, everyone that meant something to us, and the hours flew by. I had never been happier than I was on that day. I felt incredibly proud to have Dave by my side. I felt beautiful and knew without a doubt that my past was behind me and I had a bright future ahead of me. With Dave by my side I felt like we could conquer the world. We are such a team, we are best friends and I love him more than I ever thought possible.
No one is perfect. But Dave to me is everything I could ever have hoped for in a partner. I feel incredibly lucky every day that I met him, and am thankful that I met him so early in life – when I was 19 – so that we have so many years to share together. Some people wait their whole lives and never meet someone who completes them, like Dave completes me.
3 years of marriage – a new house that we will live in forever, a beautiful daughter, a family.
The only negative? Another text from my mother. ‘Happy 3rd Anniversary’. I cried, and threw my phone of the floor. Shouting ‘F*ck off’ at it.
I honestly don’t know how to stop her contacting me. I don’t want to change my phone number, and as it is I don’t know where she lives, I don’t have her phone number stored in my phone – but recognise it when it comes up, she doesn’t know where we live either. But she insists on contacting me out of the blue, and it upsets me every time.
There was a time, I don’t know how long ago, that I would have loved her to be part of my life. But now, she has missed so much that we just can’t get back. The last time I really knew my Mother I was 16. I had my first boyfriend, I was at school and working part-time in Woolworth’s. I had posters of Ant&Dec and Savage Garden on my bedroom walls, I had just got my belly button pierced, had never been abroad, never been on an aeroplane, had just got my first mobile phone from collecting ring pulls on Coca Cola cans. I was a child.
Since then I have owned two homes, met and married my Dave, had two feline additions to our family, I work for a different company and have changed locations with that company 5 times, I have learnt to drive and have owned three different cars, I have had a baby. The baby is now 9 months old. I am a woman, a wife, a mother.
I have come so far and I don’t realistically think that even if I wanted it there would be a space for my mother in my life now. My life is full with great people, great family and as I have come so far, my mother has also changed. She would no longer be the lovely, round, huggable mother who baked me cakes as a child, who always cooked from scratch, who taught me how to make a home, who gave us amazing Christmases and birthdays with very little money, who took me on days out to the park, to beauty spots – anywhere free, who took me camping each year to the New Forest, who gave me an amazing childhood on a shoestring.
The child I was, and the mother who brought me up no longer exist. I think I have spent the last 12 years mourning everything I had as a child. But I know that I can never get that back. I can never be that child again with that perfect family. And unfortunately, my mother is now incredibly bitter, incredibly focused on the past, and unable to change, that the person she is now would never be able to have a relationship with the 28-year-old me.
Our ships have sailed. I am happy in my life now and I sincerely hope that my mother is happy in her life now, wherever that is and whatever she may be doing.