What makes a good mother anyway? Is it patience? Compassion? The ability to nurse a baby, cook dinner, and sew a button on a shirt, all at the same time? Or is it heart? Is it the ache you feel when you see your child disappear down the street, walking to school alone for the very first time? The jolt that takes you from sleep to dread, from bed to cradle at 2am, to put your hand on the back of a sleeping baby? The need to flee from wherever you are and hug your child when you hear news of a child’s murder, a fire, a car crash, a baby dying?
So this is for all the mothers who sat down with their children and explained all about the facts of life – and for all the mothers who wanted to, but just couldn’t. This is for reading The Hungry Caterpillar twice a night for a year. And then reading it again, “Just one more time.” This is for all the mothers who get it wrong. Who yell at their kids in the supermarket and smack them in despair and stomp their feet like a tired two-year-old who wants ice cream before dinner. This is for all the mothers who taught their daughters to tie their shoelaces before they started school. And for all the mothers who opted for velcro instead. For all the mothers who bite their lips sometimes until they bleed – when their 14-year-olds dye their hair green. Who lock themselves in the bathroom when babies keep crying and won’t stop. This is for all the mothers who turn up at work with spit in their hair and milk stains on their shoulders and disposable nappies in their bag. This is for all the mothers who teach their sons to cook and their daughters to kick a ball.
This is for all mothers whose heads turn automatically when a little voice calls “Mum?” in a crowd, even though they know their own offspring are at home. This is for mothers who put windmills and teddy bears on their children’s graves. This is for mothers whose children have gone astray, who can’t find the words to reach them. This is for all the mothers who gave life to their babies, only to give up their babies in the hopes of a better life.
This is for all the mothers who couldn’t bear children of their own and who love the children given to them as if they were their own.
This is for all the mothers who sent their sons to school with stomach aches, assuring them they’d be just fine once they got there, only to get calls from the school an hour later asking them to please pick them up right away.
This is for young mothers stumbling through nappy changes and sleep deprivation. And mature mothers learning to let go. For working mothers and stay-at-home mothers. Single mothers and married mothers. Birth mothers and adoptive mothers. Mothers with money. Mothers without. This is for you all!