I have very few memories of my mother. The trauma of her death at a young age has wiped a lot of my early memory and kept a lot of memories I’d rather have lost. I was 7 when she was diagnosed with cancer and 9 when she died. I have memories of my childhood … hundreds … but not many with her in them.
I have boxes and albums stuffed with photos. I often look through them and it can trigger memories of an event but not of the interaction we shared, normal everyday moments shared between a mother and child. The kind of moments I share with my children that I know I shared with her but have no recollection of. A goodnight kiss, snuggling up for a bedtime story, holding hands as we walk down the street … all gone in the dust of death.
I have only two very different memories that have stayed.
We were at a neighbour’s house. I was playing with my friends; the adults were all chatting and laughing in the living room. It must have been a party of sorts because there were a lot of people there. We were running up and down the stairs, racing round the house. It was late, I was tired and hot and I went to my mum for a cuddle. She sat me on her knee; she lifted my long hair up and blew cold air on my neck to cool me down, breaking off to laugh with her friends. We sat like that for a long time, together. It is a tender moment that I treasure.
Driving somewhere, just the two of us, Mum and me. I was sat in the backseat. I had a plastic toy gun which made a click noise when the trigger was pulled. Cheap plastic against cheap plastic; Click, Click, Click. I realised that this noise, although not annoying to me, was grating to my mum. I evidently clicked one too many times because I was told in no uncertain terms that if I didn’t stop it would be going out of the car window. I must have weighed up the seriousness of her threat before … CLICK. Without saying a word, and still driving, she removed the gun from my hand, wound down the window and threw it, wound up her window and continued on our journey as if nothing had happened.
I have a lot of memories of my father’s parenting which was fairly laid back unless I crossed the line in which case I knew about it.
I often think about the way I parent my own children. On a bad day I am a ‘show no mercy’ gun slinger and on a good day I am a laid back tender neck blower.
I need to learn how to be a mixture of gun slinger and laid back tender neck blower all the time!
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