Mothering without a mum

Mother’s Day. Bittersweet for me as I am sure it is for lots of women. Tea and cake at Emmett’s Garden this year with my family and grandson has made me reflect how lucky I am but is also tinged with a sadness that I never got to do these things with my mother.


She died 52 years ago of cancer when I was 13 years old. My memories of her are vivid but seen through a child’s eyes, I would love to have known her as an adult. I am sure she would have been just as lovely, kind and protective and always fighting my corner. In trouble at school aged about 11 the Head summoned my parents to tell them of my misdemeanours. My mum asked me what I had done, thought it petty and declined to see her. I have never forgotten that. A mother’s love.

Growing up without her was hard, living in an all-male household tough. I cooked and cleaned and became very independent, probably too independent and self-reliant. The family motto was just get on with it. There was no female to really talk to about teenage angst or fashion or boyfriends. I was jealous when friends talked about their mums and cross if they moaned about them! I would have loved to be embarrassed by one.  My decision to train as a nurse probably saved me as I lived then in a mainly female environment and I learnt how to cope.

I missed her all the time but at big life events like marriage and motherhood a gaping hole was felt. I bought my wedding dress alone and felt really sad, there was no one else I wanted to be there. The excitement of pregnancy should have been shared with her as she knitted her way through it. Only a mother can console you when the symptoms of pregnancy overwhelm you and the stitches and tiredness does the same after birth.


I got through it, being a nurse equipped me with a lot of management skills and the ability to cope on a practical level, but there was always a loneliness I think. I never realised until I became a granny. My daughter is always saying that she doesn’t know what she would do without me after she became a mother, she would have coped but it is so much nicer to share the fun times as they happen and be looked after at a vulnerable time in your life. When your child is sick or playing up who else do you talk to about it when dad is at work?  When we go to the park, a soft play or shopping it’s so lovely to share that along with the WhatsApp photos and videos and I know my mum would have loved to have done that with me.  I have always thought she was watching from afar so did not miss out, but maybe I did.


I survived and so will others but Mother’s Day just makes you think.



2 thoughts on “Mothering without a mum

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