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I am reminded daily of my mother; she is hard to avoid. She pops up whenever motherhood is even briefly in the air, when a colleague talks about their children, when a friend mentions theirs, in advertising, on social media, on television, in emails telling me I should buy her flowers on the 26th. She is everywhere and nowhere, all at once.
I sat in the back row at her funeral, my unendingly supportive husband gripping my hand. It had been just over 13 years since she had left us and we’d met only twice in that time, both on horribly sad family occasions. I couldn’t bear to look at her, I was so angry still, even after all those years. Just like I was angry as I tried to push my way through my GCSEs (she left in the middle of them), as I dropped out of my A Levels (I had never failed at anything before then), as I gave up on the career I had always dreamed of and pushed myself up the ladder of one I had never even considered to be for me. Needs must.
Just like I was angry when I was ill and she had no idea; when my heart was broken and she wasn’t there. Just like when she missed my wedding day, the day that I had become sure would never happen because what she had done meant I could barely believe someone could really love me as unconditionally as (I now know) my husband does.
Just like I was angry when she took her own life. When she sentenced me to a lifetime of fear that 16 year old me telling her I didn’t want to see her eventually lead to that. When she committed the ultimate selfish act.
And I am angry now. I am angry because for all my outward insistence that I’m not sure I ever want to have my own children I know deep down that actually, I really do. And I am angry because I am afraid. I’m so very afraid that I will do what she did. Afraid that I will resent my children so much that I will be incapable of loving them forever the way a mother is supposed to, the way that she was supposed to love me.
But I am also determined, aways have been, and she couldn’t take that away (not least because I clearly did not get it from her). That un-planned career is going very well; my husband is utterly amazing and tells me every single day how much he loves me; I have the most grounding, faithful and infinitely patient friends you could ever wish for.
I will never have her again, and I can’t even remember any of the good times I am sure we did have together when I was small, but I will always have the strength she gave me when she walked away. The strength I have had to build up to keep going and the strength that I am reminded of daily when she comes to mind.
Perhaps one day, not too far away, that strength will be enough for me to be sure that I could bring my own children in to this world and give them strength and determination too, but instead of it being rooted in a need to get by, that strength and determination will be borne out of a daily reminder that I will always be there for them. No matter what.