P.s. I love you mum

My three children are almost at the ages my sisters and I were when my dad left. For the first time in my life I can truly understand the momentum of his leaving. Obviously I have always known that my mum is incredible (not that I always made that clear to her). But now having three small children I can understand what a mammoth task she had on her hands raising us on her own. I should probably also mention that she was almost 200 miles from her family, a support without which I know my husband and I would struggle to cope. She suddenly had no one to lament over that day’s bad behaviour/tantrum with, no one to share the funny silly anecdotes of her day with three crazy girls, no one to confide her worries about us to, no one  to talk to about the sorts of things only the parent of the child will actually care about.

Admittedly my father’s generation were not as hands on as our husbands and partners are, but she suddenly lost all support. It was all down to her and the buck stopped with her.  There was no one else to take a turn wiping my bum, there was no one else to turn to when I screamed the house down in a fit of rage, there was no one else to get up in the night to deal with a wet bed or bad dream.  She did every parents evening, alone. She did every school drop off and pick up. Every one. Alone. She sat up late at night stressing over finances, alone.

A friend of mine’s mum, who herself has three daughters with similar age gaps to me and my sisters, used to always say to me “how does your mum do it, raising you three girls on her own, she is amazing”. And I would think “yes, I suppose she is”, before dashing off to get ready for whatever party we were going to that night. But I didn’t really get it. Not then.

Yes there were constant threats to leave us by the side of the road if we didn’t stop fighting. And even one trip to Dublin where she became so exasperated that she left us on Grafton Street and then had a mini heart attack as we disappeared (we decided to get the bus back to my grandma’s house on our own). But frankly, had I been her I would have left us by the side of the road too. In fact it is a miracle we did not drive her to complete madness or at the very least alcoholism.

In spite of this my childhood memories are filled with love and laughter. Midnight trips to the petrol station to get sweets in our pyjamas when I was sad and couldn’t sleep. Drives along the old A5 snuggled up in the boot of the Passat to get the ferry to Dublin (hopefully without a tow from the AA). Covering the poor old Passat in silly string on Christmas Day, before realising we had to pop out to the shops in it. Lying in my mum’s bed pretending we could push a button and transport ourselves to anywhere in the world in the blink of an eye. Our holidays in the caravan in wales (though not the daddy long legs’ that used to fill the awning – yuck). The trip to France where she ran every single red light we passed (seriously, it’s a miracle we made it back in one piece). Her Sunday roasts. The warm and welcoming home she made for us and our friends. My mum was there on hand to deal with any crisis from a sore finger to unexpected exam results.

So, to my amazing mother, I thank you for being you, you kind, loving, feisty, funny, generous, crazy Irish woman. Without you, I would be nothing.

And to all the single parents out there, I salute you. I hope your little ones are currently making you cups of tea with lukewarm tap water and serving you cold toast in bed. Just remember, you will never be alone, your babies will always be there. And while they may not realise how magnificent you are now, they will. They will.

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