A Mother's Ode May 07 2016

It goes without saying we all have a mother, but how we appreciate and love that person changes so much over time. Jane, or Jamba as she has become known (the only Jane from Yamba) is one of a kind. From a taxi, chef, nurse and essential services provider as a child, to a source of support (physical, mental and sometimes financial) as we age it is impossible to measure the gratitude and worth we hold in our hearts for our mums.And then we often become mums ourselves, and we look at our own mother with a new found respect (dreary eyed, leaky bosoms respect), a new level of understanding and a bucket load more appreciation. It is hard to imagine walking in their shoes, parenting in the times they parented, or learning the lessons they learned, but often a certain phrase or the way I stroke Elsie’s hair to help get to sleep reminds me so much of my earliest memories of my mum and how no matter how much we may have fought it over time, we often become reflections of them. I often find myself cursing the busyness of our life. I dash from work to a charity committee meeting, and try to bake, maintain a household and be everything to everyone in between. Yet I know nothing else. My mother always put her hand up, and still does. And it is that model I often realise I am modelling my own parenting on. Her generosity to our community is well known. Sickness is always met with a steaming hot lasagne, an offer to walk dogs, take people to appointments or just help out. And always with reassuring words. Mum is one of those people who always knows what to say. Especially in times of sadness or tragedy. Where I fumble over meaningless sentiments, Mum gently imparts kindness and reassurance with a memory, understanding or advice. While her sense of direction and ability to read maps may often be the butt of jokes, she is always good humoured and rarely derides my brother or I in return – even though more than anyone over the years I am sure she has tallied our many faults.
And yes, like me, she talks. A lot. But there is something comforting in that and that is why even though we are only near each other a few weeks a year, we talk on the phone nearly daily. Her reassurance and guidance in my first few years as a parent has been key to me actually keeping my head above water. She has adjusted in time to my free range style, and has accepted I won’t hover over my kids at the park and they will probably be okay. I in turn have watched her cool me from the point of boiling over, while simultaneously stepping in to take over whatever disaster scene with the children has me frothing. It’s funny really because one of my strongest memories of my mum growing up was the fact we argued, despite her wonderful patience. I was super duper stubborn. And remain so – unfortunately for all who try to deal with me in a reasonable manner. Once at the age of seven or eight I refused to drink a malt milkshake. I have always detested malt. Mum insisted I drink it. I refused. The battle lines were drawn. Eventually, in a very rare moment of loss of control, Mum tipped the whole milkshake over my head. Chaos ensued. Now when I wrangle with my children I often smile at just how satisfying that must have felt for my mother. I have, by way of karma I am sure, bred on three very strident and stubborn children. I often find myself fighting the urge to tip uneaten-poked at-detested meals upon their heads. I have only given in once… I think. And it did feel a tiny bit good…As a teenager the normal throes ensued. I wanted to party like my pals. Mum was a teacher at our school and new all the codes and secrets. I wrote a letter protesting my innocence and promising good behaviour, but like Rapunzel I often remained at home… Now I am thankful for that guiding hand in those formative years, but I can still feel a little of my teenage self seething and sulking. And while she still corrects my grammar and occasionally my behaviour, I am sure it is more out of habit than horror at how I have turned out. There are so many of her wisdoms though that are great to live by. Malteasers fix everything. From problems with breast milk (they do have malt in them), to minor ills and spills with scuffed toes or grazed knees. Books are an essential part of everyday life. My lifelong love of reading comes from my Mum and I know that my children already share this simple joy. Never stop being active – from body surfing to tennis and everything in between Mum will always have a go, even if it is only a chance for a social catch up. Always eat a natural rainbow and you will be healthy (that includes occasional treats of course). But most of all she is great at listening, being a good friend and always putting others first no matter what. I don’t know what would ever happen if Mum was the one needing care, I assume she would just get on with making date loaf and cups of tea for the carer, and set them up with a book and the crossword. The swirl of the year is well underway and Mother’s Day is fast drawing near. It is so much more to me now than just picking out whether to buy the fancy frog shaped oil burner or the crocheted clothes hanger from the Primary School P & C Mother’s Day Stall. But sometimes that can be hard to explain, so flowers or chocolates are left to fill the gap.We are not a family who deals in overtures of love and adoration often. Hugs are short. The highway between us is long. Conversations too are long, and while personal, are often not directly emotional. But there is a big well of thankfulness in me, for all the time and love that has built me to become this thirty-something woman that is now trying her darndest to build the next generation of decent humans. I hope that in taking the best from the way my Mum did it, I might be able to breed a brood that turn out not just ok, but have compassion, an open heart and the love of an active, involved community life that my brother and I have been blessed to enjoy. Our life has had a decent serve of treats (ask my kids who still get jelly, ice cream AND custard every night at Jamba’s), but it certainly has not been without its tales or fair share of trials, yet I know there is no one who knows me better, nor could have made me better than my Mum. So here’s cheers (a light beer, and no more than two per night) to our Mums, who made us the mums we are, will be, and hope to be like. Thank you and may we all enjoy our mums in person, in our hearts and in our children’s hearts for many moons to come x