THE LIFE LINE

Relationships

FullSizeRender-1The umbilical chord is often seen as the ultimate connection between mother and baby. For me, it’s nature’s helping hand; a necessity rather than a matter of choice. A survival tool for the child within.

And although carrying something as wriggly and heavy as me for nine months is testament to how strong we are as women, it’s the connection that is made after that time is up, the invisible one, that is what makes a mother, a mother.

My brother was a nightmare, much like most teenage boys growing up in the big city. He had an attitude, loved women a little too much and hated school. I, on the other hand, was glued to your hip, aiming to please you at every turn. I felt bad I didn’t want to wear that money belt you insisted on me wearing at secondary school and was wracked with guilt when I snuck off to see boys instead of revising. Your children were polar opposites, but you seemed to balance our characters and fulfil our needs so seamlessly from day one that I’m sure you’re some sort of super human. And for that, we both thank you.

I had always thought that you were the only one capable of such magic, but of course I was wrong. Naturally, I still think you’re number one, but after asking for people to share the love they had for their mothers, I realised: you’re one part of a very big, very strong and very beautiful tribe. And so, the Dear Mum, Project was born.

So many of you had lots to say about the women who brought you into the world, proving how strong maternal bonds really are. I personally think something must happen to a woman when she gives birth that is never spoken about except for with fellow mothers because I sure don’t possess the stoicism, the strength or the resilience that you and I describe about the women who gave birth to us.

Today is a chance for mothers everywhere to take a break from the hardest job in the world. So as you put your feet up with a cup of tea and a chocolate hob knob, we say thank you, we love you and we appreciate you, for one day of the year (which really isn’t enough but there’s no real way to repay you, so it will have to do for now).

Happy Mother’s Day, to all of you wonderful creatures.

(As for you mum, I will never be able to show you how grateful I am for the last twenty five years, but I can do my best, as you always tell me to. So, dearest mother, the unquestionable love of my entire life, thank you for absolutely everything you’ve ever done for me- from telling me daily that everything will be okay, to gently letting me know that I should never, ever wear red lipstick – you’re an angel, and life without you is unimaginable.

Happy Mother’s Day, my life line.)

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THE EX

Relationships

large (9)I will never be friends with any of my exes, ever again.

Not because they are monsters, in fact quite the opposite, but really- what would be the point in it?

In the past, I used to think that it was a good idea to meet for a coffee every now and then, or check in with how their mums were getting on, but as the years go by I realise that they rarely check in with me and my parents and the only reason we actually ever had an interest in each other’s lives is because we were sharing the same bed.

You’ll probably think that I’m being a bit harsh here and that all of the people who touch our lives should remain in our lives.

But here’s the thing: I get far too attached to the past.

I hold my hands up to indulging too long in nostalgic moments. Lengthy glances out of the window happen on an almost weekly basis, as I remember how good things were, as opposed to the greatness of now, so it really is no option for me but to let things go quickly (and without much thought) before it’s too late. But even if I weren’t the type to relish in reminiscing, I think I’d still adhere to the same lack of contact post-break up.

I do understand that when you date somebody in your friendship group, it becomes a little more difficult to do this. You bump into them at brunch and nights out end in discussions about what happened in a corner of the bar whilst everyone else  works out how they’ll pick up the pieces in the morning. But if you have the option to never see or speak to them again, then do it; it’s great to know that they exist, but you don’t need them in your face- sort of a bit like sharks, or Katie Hopkins.

An important thing to remember is that from the moment you break up, what they do is no reflection, whatsoever, of you – or what you had together. Even if that means that they sleep with someone two days later, which might be a little hard to swallow- frankly, it’s none of your business anymore. Just as much as it’s none of their business that you’ve just downloaded Happn whilst you wait for your ready meal to heat up.

Although it’s idealistic to assume that every break up will be amicable, particularly as they pretty much never are, just make a pact to be at the very least, respectful. Even if the remnants of your relationship seem like they are strewn across the bathroom floor, don’t plaster your new lease of life all over Facebook or shove photos of your new fling into the public forum; be discrete. After all, you did love – or even just like them – once upon a time, so there’s no need to rub salt into the wounds of what is probably an already traumatic break up. Because, let’s face it, they’re all crap.

And that’s another things about exes- you aren’t the only one to have them. Be mindful that your boyfriend might have left a trail of destruction in his path and be patient with previous partners. Harsh words about you, or endless messages declaring their love for your chosen one come from a place that you should sympathise with, instead of show anger towards. Just think about how long it took you to get over that ex and remain calm, however tempting it might be to throw warnings her way.

Lastly, don’t try to convince each other that you can be friends because you think it’ll be less painful. It won’t be, so instead, look through your recent calls or texts and you’ll see a list of people just waiting for you to get in touch with them. And keep reminding yourself that you were never friends, you were in a relationship, and that those are two very different things.

Fingers crossed I have found “The One” and won’t have to add another ex to the list ever again. But if I do, then I assure you, I will be adhering to all of the above.

And for those of you who have stumbled upon this at an appropriate time in your life, then I urge you to follow these simple instructions to start moving on: meet with your ex one last time and hug them – and when you do, squeeze them really, really tight – then tell them that you love them as though it might be the last time that you will ever see them, and then step away. For a really long time.

It’ll be painful and you’ll cry, but I assure you: if you are able to do that, then you’re already half way there.

EX O EX O

THE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE – A GUEST POST

Relationships

0b65cdb9bd90edd60b3af64015f50fb7Nothing prepares you for the moment where life as you know it, changes forever.

In an instant, the days of “I” and “me” are gone and are replaced with both “we” and “us”.

From the moment you set eyes on them, it’s love: pure, unconditional, primitive love. There’s a rush of emotion like no other; a combination of panic, joy, dread, fear, and a happiness that is paired with an instinct to protect at all costs.

You worry at every stage. From making sure that they aren’t too hot or too cold, to their first steps and worrying if they’ll make friends at school, to whether their boyfriend will be kind to them or whether they’ll pass their exams. In fact, your worries are so extensive and uncontrollable that you start to worry about your own sanity.

Then the time comes for her to leave home when all rationale goes out of the window. Will she eat well? Will she be warm enough? Will she be safe or will she choke on her own vomit? The list is endless and leaving your child alone in a city 400miles from home gives you a pain like no other. As you drive off with a stuck smile and false wit about not drinking too much, your pride quickly fades and is replaced by a sense of loss. However nonsensical it all seems, there’s no controlling it, leaving you feeling helpless and exhausted in its wake. However over the top, and at whatever age, your little one leaving home feels a lot like a bereavement.

These irrational thoughts don’t just stop at daughters as one might suspect. Even sons who are reaching the ripe old age of 28 get in on the act. But instead of picturing leachy men in bars or skirts that are too short, my vivid imagination veered towards muggings, stabbings and fights with the bouncers of west London when he was out on a Saturday night.

Once he had surpassed his teenage years, I thought my worries would have died down, until I heard the dreaded words: “I’m going travelling”.

And off he went, to far off places that I have only ever dreamt of seeing, when the thoughts came flooding back in. The worries – the irrational ones, the ones that drive you crazy at 4am – return with a vengeance. But this time it’s different. This time it really is out of your control. Kidnappings, stolen organs, yellow fever and rabid dogs were never too far out of reach for my imagination. Throughout all of this inner turmoil, you smile and show photos to your work colleagues when they ask how he’s getting on, and the sane you knows that he’s having the best time as he makes new friends, treks across distant lands and tries the local cuisine because that’s what you do when you’re trying to “find yourself”. Plus, the chances of anything actually happening to him are as rare as rocking horse shit.

So when all the fighting is over, the unfinished homework is laid to rest, the wobbles of teenage years, endless broken hearts, illness, globe trotting and all week partying are a distant memory, the time comes for them to share their life with someone other than you.

And how do you cope? You do so by reflecting on how proud you are of them, how they’ve grown into the person you always wanted them to be, how your heart still leaps when you see them and how unashamedly you smile when you think of them.

So I ask you again, how do you cope? You do so by hoping that the person they have chosen loves them the way you do: purely, unconditionally and primitively, for the rest of their lives.

When you are sure of this, and only when you are absolutely sure, only then can you then begin to let go.

Written by my mum, a living legend. 

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