I’ve had a few health problems of late. At present, I’m awaiting the results of a blood test which will tell me whether or not the consistent dull ache in my knees is arthiritis. Sadly, in my family, early onset arthiritis isn’t uncommon – my mother, for one, was suffering by the ripe old age of 35. At the ripe old age of 27, I found myself, last week, on the phone to my mother, talking of the pain in my knee, whilst simultaneously arguing with Mini-Dragon about whether he needed a scar, hat and gloves on to play outside. It was around then that I uttered the immortal words… “Oh my god, Mum, I sound just like you!”. Luckily, this was greeted with a laugh from her end. But it got me thinking… Why do we dread turning into our mothers?
See, my mother has never been perfect; I’ve made no secret of it. But then, is anyone? But it seems, once you reach motherhood, that fear of turning into your own mother approaches. I’ve yet to hear any male friend of mine express fear over turning into his father. Yet it’s a fear I’ve heard expressed by many a female friend. Anyone remember our childhood fairy tales, in which mothers were someone to be feared; someone you didn’t want to become? Although the fairy tales use the guise of the Wicked Stepmother, it’s telling that initially, the Grimm’s villain in Snow White was Snow’s own mother. In various versions of Sleeping Beauty that predate the Grimm’s retelling, the villain is not the King, a rapist (Disney kinda left that point out, didn’t they?). Instead, the villain is (depending on the version of the tale you read) his Stepmother, or his wife. It’s quite clever, isn’t it? From childhood, we set our children up to fear women, and to fear becoming like those women.
But in the fear of becoming like our mothers, our mothers’ positive traits are forgotten. See, my mother shaped who I became. She’s flawed, yes, but in 20 years time, Mini-Dragon will be saying the same about me. But forget the flaws. There’s a woman who’s stood behind me every time I start a campaign. There’s a woman who taught me that there’s always a Plan B, Plan C, and one you’re done with the alphabet, you can just start numbering the plans instead. And I’ve by no means been the perfect daughter, and she hasn’t always had the right answer for my problems, but hell, she’s tried.
Perhaps it’s time we began celebrating our mothers. I don’t mean once a year, but instead, daily. Next time I find myself drawing parallels between myself and my mother, there’ll be a cheer about it. After all, she’s not perfect. But she’s close enough.