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“Through me, I see you, mum.”
A reflection on Mother’s Day, mothering and being mothered.
There I was, left arm slung over my head, listening to my daughter’s telling of her school day. My siblings will read that line and laugh – the scene all too familiar.

She said: “And then, mom, you know, he jumped on his chair and shouted. Mom, what do you think about children who jump on their chairs in the classroom?”

The mother mirror

I replied: “Well, my love, your father and I would be very disappointed if you did such a thing”. It was then that I stopped cold. It was like a voice from the past had snuck up from behind me, and spoken through my mouth. There it was – the pitch, the pose, the pondering over what my child had said. There I was – the perfect image of my own mother. A distinct memory I have of my own funny childhood, when I’d finally confessed to my mother that yes, I was illicitly smoking cigarettes with my friends in my bedroom.

Not only was I shocked at myself but, I was also comforted. I’d never realized how much like my own mother I had become, until that very moment. I miss my mama, every day, since she passed on from cancer just under two years ago.

But in the shock of hearing her words through my own parenting, I realised I’d never felt closer to my mum than I did at that very moment.

Since then, I’ve seen more and more of my own mother in my parenting. The way I am firm about manners, but open-minded about what she wants to be when she grows up. So whilst I at six played around with the idea of being a hairdresser-cum-fairy-cum-architect, she believes she’ll be a policewoman-cum-ballerina-cum-teacher.

Bittersweet memories

The shock of finding my own mother in my parenting has brought me more comfort over losing her than anything else. I see my mama now in the way I listen to my kid, I see my mama in the way I encourage hugs and discourage messiness. I see my own mama in the sadness I feel about how fast growing up happens, and I see my own mama in the mirror when I cry with pride over my little person’s successes.

The arrival of Mother’s Day is always bittersweet to me now. I’ve no biological mother to shower with gifts but I do have many maternal figures in my life I can show my gratitude to on that special day. But for my own mum, every day that I am a parent, that is my Mother’s day gift to her. And all I can hope is that she is somewhere, happy-crying with pride, just like I do.

Happy Mother’s Day, mum. For you, I am a mother every day.

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Have you ever found yourself being like your parents now that you have kids of your own?

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