I vividly remember the first time I swore at my mother. I was 14 years old, viciously hormonal and desperately wanting to meet up with my friends at the local pool. They were waiting for me to arrive so we could waste the day, flirting and giggling and pushing out our non-existent boobs while we pretended that we weren’t interested in the swarms of boys that would follow us round. Mum and I had been at it for over an hour and I was in typical teenage hysterics, made worse by the calm but firm stance my mother had infuriatingly taken early on in the debate. I knew I didn’t have a leg to stand on. I’d accepted the risks when I had elected to forgo my daily piano practice of which I had known was a prerequisite to any weekend plans being followed through with.
Our dispute was reaching its pinnacle and I had worked myself up into a frenzy. I felt it bubbling up, a torrent of word vomit just waiting for the right moment to release. I was building up the courage to let loose with the worst expletive I could muster.
I opened my mouth and unconvincingly mumble-yelled “Fuck you! I’ll never be like you when I have kids” ZIIIIIIING…she shoots, she scores. Maximum damage done.
Nope. Mum looked at me and smiled. Not a crocodile smile (you know the one, the kind that chills you to your core while you anxiously wait for the inevitable finishing move, grounding). This was genuine smile. She grinned and clapped as she slowly walked towards me. I checked her hands and my surroundings for any potential weapons. Nothing. Still, I wasn’t safe, nor was I prepared for what happened next. She laughed, wrapped me in a hug and asked for that in writing. What, in all that is holy, just happened? For months afterwards, whenever we’d see anyone we know mum would announce my presence by introducing me. “Here’s Georgie. She’s 14 and can say fuck now! Say fuck darling.”
Mum and I are two peas in a pod. It wasn’t until the puberty induced fog had lifted that I was hit with the realization that my mum is my best friend. It wasn’t until about 5 years later and 3 weeks after I’d squeezed a 6lb pumpkin out of my hoo-ha that I realised she was my soul sister*.
My mum did it solo. When I was 3 (and Suzy was a bean sized nugget inside mum’s tummy) she packed us up and moved us back to New Zealand, leaving my dad behind in England. She saved (and borrowed) money from a family friend to buy our house in one of the roughest areas in our city. We didn’t have money to spare, but I never missed out on anything. Memories were made by taking fish and chips to the beach, going for bike rides or snuggling up on the couch together, still in our pj’s and watching Disney movies. She worked nights as a bouncer at various clubs in town while she studied full time to become a lawyer. My mum, to put it bluntly, is kick ass.
My mum taught me the meaning of hard work. She showed me that life is hard, but to count your blessings daily. She gave us everything she had, and some, and it wasn’t until I gave birth myself that I began to comprehend just how many sacrifices she made when bringing us up. Even though her relationship with my dad ended, she never spoke ill of him. She held us when our hearts were broken by missed phone calls or un-kept promises, reassuring us that he still loved us, keeping the ties there so we could maintain a relationship as we got older. We never knew how much she struggled and for that, I can’t thank her enough.
I was adamant I would never be like mum when I grew up. I promised I’d listen to my kids, that I’d reason with them and that I’d never stop them from doing cool stuff. Now, I understand why she reacted like she did all those years ago, laughing and asking for it to be put in writing. She laughs more now as she tells me I deserve everything I get with Luke. I’ve caught myself in various parenting moments, mimicking her style or copying the tricks she picked up all those years ago and I feel proud. If I’m half the mother my mother was, Luke is a lucky boy.
* I also have an actual sister who I fought with more than Mum. It took her moving cities that I discovered she had stopped being a dick and had become my other soul sister. She’s hilarious and I’m so proud of what she’s achieved and who she’s become. You wanted to know where the last 3 years’ worth of Christmas and birthday presents were. Here you are, you’re welcome xx