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Written on the: March 26, 2017 by Helen Brenton
What is being a Mum?
I’ve recently noticed the many ‘mummy blogs’ online- a growing trend of mothers expressing what mothers have known for generations. That being a mum is tough. Being a mum comes with no job description, no training and no handbook. And no two people do it the same way! Being a mum makes you happy, makes you proud, makes you tired……. Being a mum tests your sanity, your relationships, and most of all tests your ability to abstain from wine on a school night!
Oh yes, we now write about it – busy mums like myself have in recent years found time to put their parenting ups and downs into words, pictures and statuses, whilst loading the dishwasher, hopping onto eBay, supervising maths homework and making cup cakes! Being a mum today, hay! How. Do. We. Do it!?!
‘Essays’ longer than some of my kids’ A-level assignments seem to appear ever more regularly in my social media feed from working mums sharing the roller-coaster ride of motherhood. All thinking they [we] are different. But mostly, infact, all feeling pretty much the same!
Indeed, becoming a mum myself some years ago saw the unveiling of a new set of additions to my skillset which would have otherwise lain dormant. These include, but are not exclusive to – producing own milk and dispensing it; being a dab hand with a wet-wipe in a variety of sticky situations; icing cakes in the theme of television characters and discovering my inner-referee whilst honing my negotiating skills!
Meanwhile, back in the 70’s, surrounded by books and encyclopedias, my own mother was raising a family whilst studying for a teaching degree. I used to hear the keys rattling away on her manual typewriter until the early hours, that familiar ‘ping ping return’ at the end of a line [often accompanied by a choice swear word or two and the sound of paper being ripped from the roller if she had made a typo… no tippex back then, never mind backspace delete!]. In the background the constant whirrr of a twin tub would lull me to sleep, whilst the piercing brring brring from the Bakelite telephone in the hall would wake me up! Ringing phones simply were not ignored in those days!
I can still recall the sounds of the ‘pressure cooker’ – that labour saving device of the generation – out of which came stainless steel baskets of boiled vegetables! Somehow our mothers instinctively knew about five-a-day without Jamie Oliver or ‘net mums’!
And you think mothers in those days didn’t get by on wine too?! No nipping to the all-night garage for a bargain Blossom Hill tho – most parents had to brew their own! Being a mum back then, hay! How. Did. They. Do it!?!
Forward-fast a few decades into retirement and Mum became aware of the internet through her grandkids and me. “Why do I need a computer and all this new fangled stuff?” she would say, “I don’t want to spend my time looking at what people I don’t know are doing”. I remember telling her more than once how she was missing out. Was she missing out? Or just not getting sucked in!
Right up until a couple of years ago Mum always had her head in a book or a newspaper, a pen in her hand or her fingers on the keys of her old manual typewriter. And on the subject of emailing or texting would say “If I want to talk to someone I will just ring them up” And she did. She used to talk – a lot! [and you wonder where I get it from!]
As well as talking. Mum used to speak. She regularly spoke at the local annual poetry festival where her scripts were humorous and popular. Touching on the lighter side of childhood, motherhood, and getting on a bit, my mother could fill a room with her poetic presence. “You should write a blog” I suggested to her once. “A what?” she replied…
Mum got ill a couple of years ago. The conversations stopped happening. The phone stopped ringing. The typewriter stopped pinging. The pen dried up and the program at the poetry festival no longer had her name on it.
Recently I came across a folder of my mother’s poems. This is ‘a what’? I then smiled to myself. This is, infact, a blog!!
Yes, blogging mummies are actually not a new trend at all- our mothers and grandmothers have been diarizing and sharing their stories for years- in different ways and through different means. But you know what, the sentiments remain pretty much the same.
Being the daughter of a mum with Alzheimer’s doesn’t come with a job description or a manual either. Standing looking at Mothers Day cards in the local supermarket yesterday, flicking through to try and find one that had words that ‘sounded’ right for Mum. She doesn’t even know it’s Mothers day. She doesn’t know what flowers are. She doesn’t even know who her own daughter is for goodness sake, never mind be able to read words in a card. Tears pricking my eyes I purchased a card left ‘blank for own message’ in which I’ll write:
“Mum, You may no longer know who I am, but I still know who you are” x
And then I wrote this blog. [This blog is for you Mum… not that you will ever read it. I couldn’t fit it all of this into a card so I put it into a blog. ‘A what?’, I can almost hear you say again. A blog, mum. A blog. It’s where people like me write about everyday things on their interactive devices!. Just as people like you used to write in notebooks – or on the rattly old keys of their manual typewriters!]
Being a mum is always being a mum. However you do it, and whatever age you are, being a mum is a privilege and is the most important job in the world!
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