Monday, 16 March 2009

mothers! II

My own mother is haunting me.

It could be the approach of Mother’s Day, the arrival of which is hailed with the subtlety of a battering ram by the retail industry (not that this has even dented the consciousness of the Engineer who had to be told this week, in a slow clear voice that this was My First Mother’s Day Ever, and was therefore Important).

But I think it may also be down to a particularly nasty bout of food poisoning I suffered after some ill-considered hoovering. No not that sort of hoovering, silly. This is the sort, I am ashamed to admit to, but that I believe other mothers will recognise, which involves popping the bits of food left behind by our offspring into our mouths rather than finding a nearby bin, or for goodness sake, just leaving them behind.

This is bad enough but on this occasion, whatever it was I consumed without a second glance as I cleared the table after a quick Starbucks stop was certainly not anything myself or Snooks had been eating, and would probably no longer have even been classed as ‘food’. I should not dwell too long on this detail, as the nausea has not entirely gone, and the last time I vomited that violently was when I drank a bowl (yes bowl) of gin during a school retreat to Prinknash Abbey. (I should just like to absolve the Benedictines of any responsibility here. They were not to know what fifth form Convent girls were like).

Stricken down as I was, but of course, not able to take a day off, I spent the day lying very still on the settee while Snooks played around me, helpfully coming over to tap me on the face whenever I dozed off.

The apparitions started the night before when at 2am the Engineer and I were locked in a strange embrace, I curled up in agony claiming that childbirth was not this painful (true) and he wrapped around me trying somehow to squeeze the pain out.

I would not say my mother’s ghost actually appeared to me but the mental image I have of my father trying to comfort her in a similar way, not long before she died, has never entirely left me and on this occasion was very clear indeed.

Now the thing is, I have often complained over the last year that it saddens me that my parents are not able to meet Snooks as I think the admiration would be mutual. But this was not exactly what I had in mind.

And so as I flitted in and out of sleep and fever while my little son played I kept being caught with the sense that my mother was here, keeping an eye on things.

In a more worldly way, my brother and sister have told me that when they became parents, they opened their mouths and out came the words of our parents and that it would happen to me.

And so it does. I find as I sing to Snooks at night, or as I walk behind him into the kitchen, holding his little hands above his head, I see my mother doing this with one-year-old me. And when I bend over to talk to him, hands clasped on my thighs, I see the black-and-white photo of her in exactly that aspect, coaxing me forwards as I gallop towards her on my hobby-horse.

While these sudden extra-sensory visitations could be down to the Mothering Sunday season, or may have come out of my delirium, they are probably simply wishful thinking.

Happy Mother’s Day all you mothers and children out there.

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