About Alison

A feisty mother earth type, who wants to look out for the little guy, used to do this more hands on until I “Burnt out”. Now moved to the country for a quiet life and create a more healthy stress free environment for myself. Love country life, Family, Friends, Horses and Dogs. I also love writing/chatting and connecting with others. Please join in on my chats here or on my other blogs, http://heyhoneyigotanidea.blogspot.co.uk/ which tracks our move to an old cottage in the Forest of Dean and http://talesofamiddleagednovice.blogspot.co.uk/ which follows my efforts to learn to ride horses in my 50s! or just follow me on Twitter and I will follow you back (if you are a real person) on @alisonbarton1. Enjoy and talk to me.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Love has to be tough, hearts need to be tender

There was initially a cocoon time for me, when I felt I was, at the core of my Mom’s universe and she was the epicentre of mine. I remember tiny fragments of actual moments, with her, which were warm and cosseted, snippets of fuzzy recollections of how we were together. Her back turned to me as she busied herself clearing a pile of ironing the steam hissing intermittently. I would happily chatter on, her reassuring responses, timed to keep me content. Her routine was my routine and we were inseparable.

 Before we ventured out we would dress as if for an important occasion, even if it was to buy potatoes from our, busy musty greengrocers. I would watch mesmerised as she painted her face to life, with a genteel spit into her mascara block, she used the gooey paste, to emphasise her lashes. Then, her mouth wide, lips stretched she pushed on the sticky scarlet lipstick, and lingered to glance at the face I adored.  She was mine and I revelled in her sublime magnificence. She was as glamorous as the monochrome movie stars I would see in the Sunday afternoon films. To this day a glimpse of Maureen O’Hara fills me with nostalgia and reconnects me fleetingly with her. That’s the way it was, until I was four, it was my ‘norm’ and I enjoyed it. It was an unwelcome shock when she changed and no longer wanted me continually by her side.

Mom tried to prepare me for my first experience of separation. My recollections are quite vivid. Initially I was excited at the prospect of going to “school” even though I had no comprehension of what “school” was. All I knew was that my older Brother and Sister went there most days.  This was an intense time; Mom enthralled me with stories of what lay ahead. We were excited together, we went shopping and I was happy to have new clothes .It was as if I was going to a party. To me it was not a preparation for separation, more an opportunity to bond even closer together in this joint enterprise. When it actually came to it, I decided I preferred staying at home with Mom. I told her and expected things to revert back to “normal”. Unfortunately she was made of steel, no heart. All the warmth between us dissipated and she sternly told me there were no “if, buts or maybes about it,” I was going to school. 

Going to school meant walking. My Mom never mastered driving, even though teaching her became almost an annual event. As spring turned to summer my Dad would get the L plates out and gird his loins in preparation.  Alas no, Mom never did learn to drive. On reflection, her inability to grasp the rudiments of driving was totally out of character. Patting her head whilst rubbing her tummy was a doddle, she could knit the most intricate of sweaters while keeping up with instalments of Coronation Street without dropping a stitch. Perhaps she simply preferred to walk, or at least resist the consequences of being able to use the car herself; after all it would mean loosing her chauffeur.

So to go out with Mom meant hopping on a bus or more usually having a “good stretch of the legs”. It was five stops to my new school, a distance of roughly two miles, which meant, to Mom, that there was no need to waste scarce money on bus fares everyday. She assured me that the exercise would do us good, so we walked. More accurately,  it was a long drag of a small screaming child.  I hated school with a passion. Perhaps more fundamentally I hated the fact that Mom wanted to take me there. Moreover she was extremely determined to battle with me every inch of the way and intent on leaving me there no matter how wretched I was.

 At the school gates I was totally inconsolable. My mom tried to peel me off her arms and legs, as if I were some monster from the sea, all sucking tentacles and slime. How could she hate me so much? What exactly had I done? To add insult to injury my teacher joined us and aided my Mom in the final separation. It made an incredible spectacle for everyone; other Mom’s looked on smug because their children had gone quietly inside. Older children jeered and imitated my crying, which only exacerbated my efforts and worst of all Mom’s face became stonier and I felt her increasing disappointment. I gave in collapsed into my teacher’s arms wet face and snotty nose, rubbing up against her prim white blouse. My spirit was broken. There was no point fighting anymore.  My recollection of the following weeks and months are non existent, how I transformed into a child who went willingly to school, I do not recall, I only know that I did, eventually.  I made friends and got to like teachers (well some of them) but I was never entirely happy at school and always felt separate a little apart from the others.

The experience of being separated and “abandoned” by my “mom” was a lasting hurt, which although buried still existed like a tender spot on my heart.

Of course this is an isolated event and as my Mom was my “idol” before I went to school as I grew up and watched her cope with life she became my role model, a woman I loved, admired and respected above all others.

Years later as I myself approached motherhood my Mom talked to me about lots of events in my early life. It was a poignant time as my Mom was terminally ill and as my pregnancy progressed it became imperative to share memories and get answers to questions before it was too late. It was evident that our new baby and her grandmother would never meet. To say my Mom was stoic would be an understatement, she remained calm and brave throughout making visits warm and bearable. She would place her hand on my bump and talk to our baby, telling her stories about me, one story was about going to school.

She found it easier somehow telling Laura, our baby, the story instead of me. Mom and I knew that these conversations, between us, were well overdue and it was easier to pretend they were for Laura’s benefit. What we did not want, especially now was the pain of recriminations and the ugly taste of guilt to taint our last precious days and hours together. I let my gaze fall on our hands which lay on top of each other resting on my bump. We were deliberately forming a connection between the three of us that would never have the opportunity to become more real. Mom’s voice was light as she described my rueful antics and determination at avoiding going through the school gates. All of which I knew, she then shifted in her bed and placed a hand on her own face as if for succour. “Yes, my darling baby, your Mom cried all the way to school and I cried all the way home.”

She turned her head to face me, her eyes moist with tears, allowing a rare glimpse of her vulnerability. Mom had readily shared her joy of life with us, but had regarded it her duty to manage her own demons privately. I had maintained a childlike perspective on this early chapter of my life, selfishly never reflecting maturely, on what it must have been like for my mom to leave her distraught “baby” with strangers and go home alone. We held the moment between us, as if both catching up with the affects of her revelation.  She then went on to tell me that for her too, our time at home together had been very special and that taking me to school was the last thing she wanted to do, but of course it had to be done. I felt my heart grow as if it would burst and the tender spot, so long a weakness in my armour, heal. She thought at the time that I would be her last baby and she had to accept the end of an era. Mom told me that although she hurt inside she remained outwardly strong, hoping that at some point I would get used to  school and be happy again.

It was a matter of days later that she died. I missed her and grieved her loss for a long time and still do.  What I knew by then though was I had always been cherished and the separation all those years ago hurt us both. This time we separated understanding each other’s sorrow, trying to ease the fear. Both knowing I would carry her in my heart forever and she would never abandon me.



2 comments:

  1. Oh Alison, I have tears in my eyes reading this. Your mother sounds like she was a wonderful lady and what a special moment you shared in those days before she passed when you both finally were able to find a safe space to talk about what had left a painful mark on both of you. I'm sorry your daughter never to got to meet her grandmother.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for your comments, yes my Mom was wonderfully brave and warm human being.
    I have looked at your blog and we seem to be kindred spirits!
    take care x

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Hi I am really interested in your comments so let me know what you think and I will get back to you if you want me to. Thanks for reading
Alison xx