Pommy-Aussie Mother’s Day 2017
Beginning Middle and End: Parts One, Two and Three
Mother’s Day became twofold for me when I moved to Australia from England in 2005.
The British Mother’s Day comes in like a flood every year in March. I wait for it quietly, holding my breath, until it spills out all over my news feed in the evening as the Brits wake up and start their day. It’s impossible to avoid and I can’t help but feel jealous of my friends with their mums and I can’t help but feel like I am missing out. It’s on annual repeat. Because of its two dimensional digital quality this first Mother’s Day of the year is completely surreal because I can’t see or touch it out on the streets of Melbourne. Somehow it gets lost, suspended in the timewarp between northern and southern hemispheres, happening but not happening.
Over time the March Mother’s Day has become all about Mum for me and so if this is the one day of the year you are meant to get access to your mother, then I would say that my access is definitely restricted simply from not living in the right country. She was a French woman mothering as a motherless mother from the late 1970s to the early 1990s in a country that was not her own. For these reasons she wasn’t like everybody else’s mother I knew and I often feel like I have no reference points today because of the kind of mother I had. I know it’s a silly thing to say but I can’t help but think to myself, “How do I get access to my kind of mother?” The only obvious answer has been to be to quasi-morph into her myself but now that I’m a mother I’d just like to turn to her occasionally and ask, “What do you think about mothering these little daughters, Mum?” plus so many other questions that are impossible to pin down and list.
I’ve talked about her so much recently in the conversation about breast cancer that I think there can be nothing more to say but then I find something else and something else and something else. Part of me wants to shut up completely because all I actually really want to say is, I JUST WANT MY MOTHER !!!
To the outsider it looks like so much drama. And, yes, it really is because it’s the story that never ends! How can you ever stop missing the mother you lost to breast cancer when you were 16?
Nothing I can ever say or write or draw or paint will show how deep the missing lies. Nothing will ever change the feelings that came from this loss and the way I look at life. The emotions will only ever ebb and flow at different times in the future.
I never fully understood the importance of Mother’s Day until I became a mother myself which was in 2010. It’s an incredible rite of passage for a woman which comes with a goody bag full of conflicting emotions. Those little rugrats wield the most astonishing power over you: you love them, they drive you crazy, you love them, they drive you crazy, you love them. My love for them is so enormous I know there is nothing I wouldn’t do to save them. I haven’t hugged my girls properly, really hard, face to face, chest to chest, for nearly nine months but this experience of preventative mastectomies and reconstruction has saved them from what I went through when I lost my mother to breast cancer, and has saved me from what my mother went through when she lost to breast cancer while reliving her own mother’s breast cancer story. The new boobs (baps) are nearly finished so if you think of a hug as a circle then I am close to hugging my two girls again properly, just as a loving mother should. This second Mother’s Day, in May in Australia, is now all about them and me, which is a joy, just as it’s meant to be. I have managed to separate sadness from happiness by moving to the other side of the world.
I’ve told this story before but since I am living this entire experience with a little help from my musical friends, the first song I heard on the radio on the day Mum died was ‘Every Breath You Take’ by The Police. So in the post-surgical celebratory spirit of hip hop hooray it seems only right that I close the circle back to that moment in time on 7 June, 1994. Here my homegirl in a late 1990s rework of that signature song. It’s Faith Evans. She be missing you (Mum).