Take away the fact that we were nothing but punch bags, scapegoats, underdogs, nuisances and inconveniences, take away the finer details of the reason we’re all here reading this blog post; the bottom line is we all grew up without our mums. And as much as for the most part some of us might very well be doing alright as adults in well paid jobs and living regular lives, no matter what we achieve there has always been some pieces missing. Things you probably didn’t realise to start with, or maybe it was that you saw something on TV and wished you had that, something like a mum plaiting her daughter’s hair. Sound familiar? The girl whose mum told her she was ugly every day and the girl whose mum passed away when she was two and the girl whose mum left her with her hapless dad soon after she was born all have one thing in common; they’re all missing their blueprint.
Truth is, and it’s a sad truth, there’s so much more girls without mums have had to go without and what’s even sadder is there’s no way of ever getting any of that stuff back. Even if we have a stepmum or an auntie or a nana to take responsibility for us in place of our biological mum, it’s not the same. Once you’ve grown up, that’s it, there’s no going back and that’s the most painful part. You’ll never ever have those things. You’ll never sit on the floor after a bath while she brushes your hair. You’ll never snuggle into her neck and smell her perfume. You’ll never hover nervously in the doorway and mumble something about thinking you might have gotten your first period. You’ll never even get to say ‘OOOORRRRRR I’M TELLIN’ MY MUM ON YER!”. It’s really sad. Really really sad. And guess what? It doesn’t get any easier.
She’s not there when your best mate suddenly goes off with Shannon from science class and leaves you hanging at break. She’s not there when the cute boy from two streets down smiles at you on your way home from choir practice and you feel like your cheeks are going to drop off your face from the heat prickling them. She’s not there when you have the worst period pains you’ve ever had in your life. She isn’t there to tell you gently that the navy blue kohl pencil you’ve tried your hardest to put under your lower lash line really doesn’t suit you. She’s not there when you get your GCSE results, your A Level results, your driving test results. She’s not there when you’re trawling through University brochures, apprenticeship leaflets, job applications. She isn’t there when you find yourself holding hands with aforementioned boy from two streets down, and she’s not there when you decide you want to have sex and need some really good advice because you’re terrified but ready and in love and worried about your cellulite all at the same time and just need someone to talk to and take you to the doctors to go on the Pill.
She’s not there when you’ve seen other girls wearing blusher and have no clue how they made it look so effortless and rosy. She’s not there to tell you that bleach is really bad for your hair especially when left on for five hours under tin foil while you watch back to back episodes of Bad Girls. She’s not there to plead with you to not hire a dodgy moped on your girls holiday to Athens, and she’s not there to tell you she’ll be round in half an hour to look at the massive phone bill you’ve unexpectedly received upon your return to Blighty. She’s not there when you try waxing your bikini line for the first time at home and take off what feels like fifty layers of skin by accident and end up waddling from bathroom to bedroom in tears trying to assess the damage with a hand mirror. She’s not there when you find yourself lost on a night out with your mates from Uni who you haven’t seen in two years and realise they’re not as nice as you thought they were, and she’s also not there when the creepy bloke won’t take no for answer and leaves you scarred for life.
She wasn’t there to argue with you over what you were wearing, who you could hang around with, when to be home, why you couldn’t have a mobile phone like everyone else in school. She wasn’t there to shout at you when she found your school uniform crumpled in a damp heap in the bathroom at 7pm on a Sunday night. She wasn’t there to tell you your attitude was disgusting and that one day you’d see how badly behaved you were and understand why she was often so frustrated. She wasn’t there to ask you to please bring the seventeen half drank cups of water down from your festering bedroom. She wasn’t there to ask over and over who’s house you were staying at on Friday night, because really she knew you were staying somewhere else completely but wanted to give you the chance to admit it first.
She isn’t going to be with you when you’re sitting on the toilet looking blankly in shock at two pink lines. She isn’t going to be there when nine months later those two pink lines have finished growing into a whole other human being who has decided unceremoniously that now is the time they’ll make their grand entrance into the world. She isn’t going to be there when you’re petrified at the thought of holding this human being in your arms, having to nurture it, respond to it, understand in a heartbeat what it needs and craves. She isn’t going to be there when it’s time to walk down the aisle. You’ll have to fix your veil and your train all by yourself. She isn’t going to be there when work is grim and you feel like giving up because no matter how hard you try you can’t seem to make ends meet. She isn’t going to be there when you’re arguing constantly with your husband about the house and the kids and bills and the holiday you booked to Antigua but really can’t afford.
She’s not in your phone, stored under the name ‘Mum’ with a star next to her name signifying you call her often. She’s not in your text messages, your call logs, your camera roll. Her name isn’t on your lips, her face isn’t in your mind, her laugh and her smile isn’t in your heart. She isn’t even in your dreams, because you’ve gone so long without her she’s not at the forefront of your memory, your consciousness. She isn’t a part of your Saturday shopping trips, your lazy Sunday dinners, your Bank Holiday barbecues. She isn’t sat next to you on the sofa with a cup of tea, asking you how work was, telling you she’s booked in for a trim and blow dry, reminding you that it’s Judy’s next door neighbours dogs’ hairdressers cousins housemates birthday and you must send a card. She isn’t there, anywhere, at any time, in any shape or form. She’s just not there.
You’ll never wear a necklace and say ‘Oh thanks, it was my mums,’ when someone compliments you. You’ve never sat in Costa and shared a slice of lemon meringue. You won’t know what it’s like to lie in bed at night and have her tuck you in and tell you to sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite. You’ll look at other girls and wonder if they look the double of their mums, or if they simply have her eyes, her lips, her blonde hair. You’ll sit in silence on Mother’s Day, a deep dark rumble in the pit of your stomach, knowing if you go on social media you’re going to be overwhelmed by other people’s joy and gratitude, bombarded with photos of smiles and daffodils and jewellery. You try not to cry on her birthday, try to go about your day like it’s a normal one. You’ll awkwardly formulate a reply to questions about her from those who don’t know, just to avoid the uncomfortable conversation about why she isn’t a part of your life. You’ll learn how to swiftly change topic of conversation too.
You will never get any of those things back, or get them at all if you never had them, and it hurts like nothing else. It hurts like the biggest and deepest cut with the sharpest and roughest of blades in the most sensitive and most fragile part of you, and it’s a hurt that will never go away, never dull, never ever leave you alone. Most things in life can be changed, be dealt with, be made better, be fixed. But not this. And that’s one of the reasons it hurts so much, because you know without a shadow of a doubt that you cannot change this no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, no matter how good you try to be. This damage is one of the most unfair and unjust of its kind. But you see, my darling, you’ll be just fine, as long as you keep talking, keep walking, keep swimming, keep smiling, keep climbing, and keep breathing. Keep fighting for your life, keep pushing towards your goals, keep telling yourself that you are okay and that you matter and that you are most definitely important and deserving of a good life, and that if your mama was here, or if you had a mama who loved you, she’d be bloody proud of the beautiful and capable woman you are right here, right now, in this very moment. Without question. She’d be very proud. Very proud indeed.