I was not even half way through my 20s when I became mum to Jade. By yesterday’s standards and absolutely by today’s standards, that’s pretty young to be popping out an offspring. Although I will proudly state upfront that Jade was never “popped out”, moreso the caesarean result of a stubborn child who preferred dark warmth to fluorescent noise. I think she still does. I still can’t wake her up.
But I digress…
I was the first of my tribe to bear offspring. And at the time, her father and I had absolutely no idea what we were doing.
“Is it time for a nappy change?” he would ask me.
“How the fuck would I know?” was my standard issue response.
“Is she due for a feed?” was another of his incessant questions.
“Well we fed her three hours ago, how about you do the maths,” was another example of a standard reply.
Somehow though, we got her through to adulthood alive and alert, where she will turn 25 at winter’s end and continues to stupefy and enrich me with her fearlessness, conviction, vivid plans and flat out refusal to conformity.
That’s how I absolutely know she’s my child. She makes me feel I can validate the title of mum.
My arc of friends is wide, colourful and jagged. Single mums, married mums, gay mums, grand-mums, aunty-mums, no mums and a decent sprinkling of never-to-be mums.
Yet all are mums in some form, shape or voice.
I met a lady (girl) on my first day at high school who to this day is still my close, supportive, non-judging, available, warm, joyous best friend. That was in 1978 so again I ask you to do the maths (simply because I’m getting so old now, I’m a tad afraid of calculators).
She’s literally the world’s most dedicated and enamoured aunt (or Arty) to her tribe of nieces and nephews. Which involves a set of twins so work with me here. Her wish to be a biological mum to her own kids didn’t eventuate. And that comes with its own separate menu of heartbreak, but at day’s end it never stopped her from loving and evolving with the young ‘uns her brothers and sisters managed to manufacture.
I have another incredible (and again very long term) friend who has chosen to devote her life to her mother’s care and not concerned herself with her own reproduction. And remains nonplussed with her choice.
Yet another shunned the concept of conception outright and embraces a career lecturing in the USA on sleep techniques for babies.
My Brisbane neighbour, who never quite found the right bloke to make the babies with, knew that there were cartloads of abandoned puppies that the RSPCA needing help to process and home. Which eventuated in her full time care of Milo and Peaches, two adorable pups that in lesser circumstances would no longer be with us.
My other best friends M&M are apparently gay but are so fucking fabulous and warm and gorgeous and blessed that being gay is irrelevant and unconnected. Not a hesitation or a stuttered breath in helping me and wanting to take care of Jade. Black Eyed Pea and Kylie concerts spring to mind, the sort of concerts where I would prefer to swallow a battery than endure. Sitting on Dreamworld’s Giant Drop or eating at the Pancake Manor or enduring hours of boogy board surfing… And when she needed it, offering her a full time job in their company.
And my other friend, who held my daughter in her arms when she was three months old while I held her wine glass for her, then went on to give her office work 23 years later. I once spied on them having a cocktail together. They were laughing. Bless. I kept walking, albeit with a very warm heart. I may have taken a sneaky photo.
Here’s the thing. Don’t think for a second they’re not mothers too.
As a single mum from the time my daughter was four, I had to be flexible and open to support, ideas and constructive criticism to make it all work. I had a tribe of people around me who cheered, cleaned up and nodded, and every single one of them needs a Mothers Day accolade for the help and kindness they selflessly offered me. And for what the offered others.
OK, so I’m adopted. From birth all I knew were two people who vocalised unashamedly on their desire to be parents.
They chose me.
I think that’s cool.
And they are the kind of parents people dream to have – easy, supportive, talkative and ready with a wine bottle and a wine glass. They also sent me to Girl Guides, Sunday School, piano lessons and private school. I may have got a smack. I definitely got grounded.
Four decades later I meet the outstanding and liberating lady who not only gave birth to me, but also understood that the best option for me was adoption. How a mum makes that irreversible and devastating choice I will never experience but I absolutely know it was made from a place of love. And a place of hope. Hope for a brighter future and the peace of knowing you did the best thing possible.
She’s my mum too. I love her so much. I’m pretty lucky to have the best of both mother worlds.
It’s the motherload. Literally.
I want the word “MUM” to mean more than what Hollywood movies depict or online news forum debate.
If you love unconditionally, I reckon you’re a mum. If you have ached because someone else ached, you’re a mum.
And if you look into a younger person’s eyes and see the future, you’re absolutely a mum.
Happy Mother’s Day. Much love xo