Happy Mother’s Day to all those women who have beautiful children prancing around the planet. May you have a beautiful soulful day.
I have an app on my phone called Story Corps. I downloaded it ages ago. It is an app that helps you document every day life. It is an app that documents oral histories and I LOVE the whole idea of it. What you do is you download the app, choose someone to interview (it can be yourself), choose some questions, and record the answers. When you are done you can share your interview with family, friends, the world.
The idea is to collect and curate an archive of oral histories from around the world, documenting individual threads of the fabric of humanity. According to their website, they have archived more than 50,000 interviews since 2003.
When I downloaded it, I had the best intentions. It seemed like such a good idea at the time. But like any good idea, one has to actually implement it for it to be anywhere near effective. I am not big on action. I forget. I forget what apps I have downloaded (heaps!!) and then I don’t even think to look.
Anyway, I digress.
So Story Corps is an app that makes story telling easier. I totally love that you can scroll through and watch people’s beautiful stories. Kind of like a global video version of Humans of New York. But, despite having it on my phone and loving the idea, I had completely forgotten about it.
Then I got a pop up on my phone. An email from Story Corps to remember to interview my mom about being a mother, and on motherhood.
I can’t interview my mom, since she died five years ago, but I thought it was a great thing to do myself for my own children and grandchildren. So, I decided to record an interview, which I have transcribed here: A story of motherhood.
What do you remember about the day you became a mother?
It was my mom and dad’s 25th wedding anniversary and Greg and I had made our way to the hospital. I had opted to have an epidural because I am dreadfully afraid of pain – a big baby really. Then I felt guilty because as I lay in pain free labour doing cross word puzzles, the lady in the room next to me was screaming blue bloody murder. Afterwards it would irk me that I didn’t at least try labour without an epidural. I felt guilty, somehow, like I had betrayed the sisterhood. I resolved that with my next baby I would try it without an epidural which I did. I still had one in the end though, but at least I had tried.
Whilst lying in my pain free state, I started to crave ice cream in a manic way. I kept asking for ice-cream incessantly which they wouldn’t let me have. I became quite cranky. Eventually one of the nurses became concerned as I appeared “out of it” and asked a poor student nurse to take my blood pressure. She couldn’t find a pulse, and suddenly I had a few staff around me calling my name. Within minutes I was feeling fine as they opened up the fluids and let it run into my body. Apparently an epidural can cause a sharp drop in blood pressure. The ice-cream craving was apparently a response to that which still sounds weird to me.
When you arrived, Miss J, they nicked your head as I had to have an episiotomy, so you came into the world with a bit of an injury, but you were perfect in every way. As I lay in my bed, with you in your basinet by my side, I felt this overwhelming sense of responsibility which scared me quite a bit. I kept thinking how I was responsible for you for the rest of my life, which seemed a big ask since I wasn’t very good at looking after plants and animals. I was filled with love of course, but I was petrified that somehow I would mess it all up, or forget to do something. I reckon you turned out just fine though, what do you think?
I was also shocked to find that my stomach did not snap back into place the minute you were born. No one had mentioned that it takes a while for the uterus to reduce and so for a fair few days after delivery it looks like you haven’t really delivered anything. I admit to crying as I lay in the bath and my big bulbous tummy floated on top of the water.
Without a doubt that day was the best, most wondrous, amazing and scariest day of my life.
How has being a mother changed your life?
You cannot become a mother an not have it change your life. You might try, but it is impossible. For one, you go from looking after just yourself, to taking care of another person. One that poops and cries a lot in those first few months. But as you grew, I grew too. Sometimes I resisted it, especially when I was tired or fed up, which happens to every parent, but at the end of it, I had grown a bit more. The depth of love I found myself capable of experiencing truly amazed me. You are both now grown and still that love continues to deepen with each passing day, month and year.
I have become a lot more tolerant and less judgemental. I am a better person for the experiences, love and moments that motherhood has afforded me.
I have felt privileged at being able to experience the one thing that is unique to women. I nurtured you in my womb, and I nurture you now and always will until I die. That is truly an honour to experience.
I have gained a far better understanding of my own mother. Sometimes I was really angry and hurt at some of the decisions she made. Becoming a mom truly helped me to understand her a lot more, it brought me closer to her. There is a saying that we lose our daughters in their late teens but we gain them back when they have children. I think that is true.
What parenting advice would you like to share?
So much advice is out there I hesitate to say. I never cared for advice to be given to me. Mostly because I felt horrible and inadequate if I didn’t or couldn’t implement it. What I would say is that love truly does conquer all. No matter what path your children take, just love them. It might not have been the path you would have chosen for them, but truly if you have faith in your children, they will have faith in themselves and there is no greater gift you can give them than that.
No matter what do not compare yourself to other mothers. They are treading their path and doing what works for them. You will be, and are, a brilliant mother Miss J. We live in perpetual fear that we are going to screw up our children, but honestly, you won’t. It is a known fact that from about the age of 8, their friends have far more influence over them than you ever will, which brings me to my original point – LOVE THEM AND THEY WILL LOVE THEMSELVES.
Also, trust your instinct – ALWAYS!
Take lots and lots of photos, even when they are grumpy.
What hopes and fears do you have for the future of yourself and your children/grandchildren?
My hopes and fears are two sides of the same coin. I am political. I fear for a world that is hell bent on destroying itself. I hope for a world that will find peace, to work together to nurture the earth that will feed all of its people and provide them with safety and shelter and self actualisation. My fear is that it will never happen and that we will continue down the path that we currently walk down. I hate the idea of my grandchildren and great grandchildren inheriting a world that cannot sustain itself due to our generation’s wasteful, greedy, consumeristic blindness. I fear that a lot.
What are some special memories you have of your own mom (Gogo?)
My mom died five years ago and the gaping hole that has been left in my heart reverberates every day. I remember her softness, but also her strength. I remember her kindness. I remember her obsessiveness to her hobbies which in my lifetime were baking and sewing. I remember that no matter who walked in the door there was always room at the table for one more. I remember her wonderful sense of humour and her wonderful laugh – my goodness we laughed! I remember her ability to always forgive. I remember how she always saw the good in people. I remember how it felt when she would hug me. I remember how she used to break into song at every sentence that I ever said (at least it felt like that). I remember she loved songs like Jolene by Dolly Parton and I am Woman by Helen Reddy. I remember how she loved me to sing to her, especially Scarborough Fair and Amazing Grace, both of which I sang at her funeral. I remember her love of cookery shows. I remember how she bought clean nickers for the sole purpose of throwing them at Tom Jones when he came to town – when she was 60! Most of all I remember love. Nothing but pure love. She used to tell me that us children were a gift to her. I can only hope she knew what a gift she was to me.
So there you have it. My mother’s day story that I will be passing onto my children. Now it is your turn!