A few years ago I wrote to friends on Mother’s Day. I thought that, since the world has a completely different complexion now, I would write again.
2020 has not been a banner year for us. In January I nearly died, so motherhood has a deeper resonance than ever before and I am even more determined to focus on the now and not to a future that is uncertain in every way.
I have not been able to move or speak for the best part of ten years so being quarantined isn’t so different for me. But I feel enormous gratitude at having my children at home, and this time pinpoints my focus on being the best mother I can possibly be.
I may not be able to hug or kiss my kids, or take my daughter shopping, but I can show them that physical challenges don’t translate to mental and emotional challenges, and that triumphing over whatever is set in front of you can be the making of you, and give you strengths you never knew you had.
My own mother was really sick when I was younger. Towards the end of her life when my dad had to travel for work, I would often come home from college so she wouldn’t be lonely. I would sleep in her bed, help her shower and — more than once — had to talk her down when her pain medication made her hallucinate terrifying images. These are the moments when the child becomes the adult and I have witnessed the very same moments with my children, too. I knew at an early age what real suffering and true bravery were, and felt enormously lucky to have had my mum as my mother. So when my daughter tells me that she is happy that I am her mother, that resonates deeply with me.
My children are now in their mid and late teens and have lived with my situation for more than half their lives. It has not been easy, but I have seen them become more and more resilient and seen them lean in to each other on difficult decisions. We also lean on each other as a family and on our extraordinary friends who have helped teach my children the deep and true value of friendship and community. And then there is my husband, Tim, who literally saved my life in January, and who has talked to our kids with such clarity and honesty throughout our whole journey.
It goes without saying that my children are the most precious people in the world to me and I plan to keep fighting tooth-and-nail to give them the mother they deserve. I encourage them to think of their glass half full rather than half empty and tell them that, compared to many people in the world, we are very lucky indeed. We have outside space and it gives me huge pleasure to watch my family swim in the pool and I look forward to the restaurant-quality meals that Tim creates in the kitchen every night. It’s these small moments which build upon each other to create a very significant whole. I suggest to the children that, despite our present being hard, they shouldn’t stop dreaming big.
We have learned along the way not to listen to the most dire predictions. We know that our best weapon in this fight is our love for each other and that has proven true, time and time and time again.
I send you love, and a Happy Mother’s Day.