What Being A Mother Means To Me!
Being a mother means being there for your children. We are there to provide the basics: sustenance, protection, warmth and comfort. These are the essential duties that we sign up to from the moment of conception until our child no longer needs us. During pregnancy nature takes care of these needs. All we really need to do is look after ourself and avoid soft cheese, peanuts, alcohol, caffeine, contact sports and bungee jumping. It's the easy bit for those of us lucky enough to have relatively uncomplicated pregnancies.
When our baby is born into the world, no longer safe in the protective blanket of our womb, our responsibilities grow. This tiny, mewling human is totally reliant on us to continue providing these same essential basics. Milk from my breast, an Isofix carseat for protection, a Gro-bag for warmth and gentle cuddles and cooing for comfort.
The nourishment and nurturing we provide sees our newborns grow and develop into inquisitive toddlers. They demand a whole new way of being looked after. Their developing tastebuds seek the excitement of new tastes and textures. Gone are the days of bland baby rice and pureed mush. Toddlers want the tantalising joys of Munch Bunch yogurts, Organix spicy tomato wheels and Fruitshoot My-5 juice. We have to baby-proof our homes with socket covers lest they decide to insert something long and pointy into the holes that bear more than a passing resemblance to a mini shape sorter! We keep them warm and cosy in their In The Night Garden onesies with non-slip soles. We rub knees and kiss heads to provide comfort when their newly acquired walking skills let them down!
Before we know it our child is starting school. The virtual umbilical cord, that held our little ones close over these early years ,begins to stretch and fade as they assert themselves as unique, independent individuals in the big wide world. We provide a packed lunch with cheesestrings, Innocent Fruit Smoothies and the occasional post-it note saying "I love you". We fit our cars with the latest booster seat and trust that the crumple zones really do work in case of the worst. We buy the cosiest coat from Next and insist they put their hoods up. We listen as they tell us that so-and-so said they are not their best friend anymore and we wipe away the tears and tell them that it will all be OK tomorrow. (And if it isn't we will march straight up to the school and demand that the little bully be dealt with!)
The teen years can be fraught, but personally I have enjoyed this time in my children's lives. They face new challenges on their journey to adulthood, and sometimes they can resent our parental contributions. Handled well though, this is the stage in their life where we can see the adult that they will become and feel great pride that we are a part of this transformation. We try our best to provide at least three square meals a day but keep breakfast biscuits in the cupboard and ready meals in the freezer just in case. We become a taxi service on call 24/7 because, although we might miss the series finale of Desperate Housewives, as least we know they will get home safely. (That's what Sky+ is for after all!) We buy them hoodies with the names of their favourite groups or causes emblazoned on the front. Yeah they look cool...but that fleecy lining and hood means they won't catch a chill!! We are always there if they need us...because they will need us. Maybe not all the time. Sometimes we'll be an utter embarrassment to our teens but when things go pear shaped, nothing will ease the pain like a plate of mum's home baked muffins, a listening ear and a hug.
Then they leave home! Nothing really changes...the needs are the same. Bags of baked beans, lentils, pasta, cup-a-soups and Angel Delight get delivered to their student digs or starter home with every regular visit. We pay for new tyres on their cars (we may complain but heaven forbid they have a blow out on the M1) and regularly deliver the "don't walk the streets on your own" advice. We slip them the odd few quid because we know how expensive bills are and we dread to think of our child shivering unable to heat their room in Winter. Whenever we go clothes shopping on the internet we can't help but check out the clothing in their sizes...and more often than not, a medium sized River Island coat or a pair of stout leather boots, that we know would withstand the rainy season in Manchester...will find their way into our basket! When things go wrong, we get the phone call. Illness, a prang in the car, relationship troubles, an allergic reaction to antibiotics, money worries, a drunken stumble resulting in concussion, an argument with a so-called friend, a misbehaving computer or most recently a broken arm....we are the first port of call for advice and sympathy.
Because, although they are now grown-ups, we still provide that comfort that only a mother can give!