Tag Archives: teenagers

Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children

The movie The Crow, contains one of the most moving lines about the mother-child relationship I have ever heard: ‘Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children’.

I think of this statement often at the moment, as I watch my eldest child, who is legally an adult, but emotionally a baby, make a mess of her life. When she fell over as a toddler, I picked her up, patched up her baddies, cuddled her and set her back down again, free to explore and play until she should fall again: I still do this, but her falls are potentially more dangerous, her baddies have the potential to scar in different, deeper, more painful and long lasting ways. Back then, I set the limits of her universe: now, I can be here to pick her up, but when I set her down again she must make her own limits.

Two days ago we had a painful, heart wrenching conversation, in which I told her that I cannot keep picking her up because I am at the limits of my own mental and physical strength and her current behaviour is threatening the health and welfare of her much younger sibling. I am to all intents and purposes a single mum, who works full time to support her family: the analogy I shared with her was that I often feel as though I am swimming across a deep lake with her and her brother on my back and that her flailing and splashing about threatens to drown us all. I told her that if this continues, I will have no choice but to take her brother and swim away, even though it will break my heart. She looked me in the eye and said ‘if you do that I will drown mum’. I know that this is true, but the only alternative is that we all drown and I simply will not let this happen. I told her this. She cried. I cried. She made me promises that I knew would be broken the very next day: I was right.

Someone very wise once told me that teenagers try to destroy their parents and it is their parents’ job not to let them. I can only pray that she is right and that in setting the hardest and most final of boundaries, the only one, in fact, that I have left at my disposal, I might somehow be able to keep my daughter safe, just like I did when she was a toddler. This poem is a little prayer, just for her:

Remember when

My hands were your nest

Stroking wisps of natal down

Turning the dead of night

Into a lactescent

Snow -white feast

Remember when

You landed

Under the full moon

Of my eyes

And took your

First steps towards

Arms as wide

As the sky

My love

The invisible

Intact umbilical

Is longer than

Any road away from here

Stronger than any

Harm which you

May do yourself

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Things I wish I’d known at 18…

Reading Birthdays, goodbyes, and hope made me think about my oldest child’s 18th birthday celebrations a few weeks ago: it’s hard to believe I now have a child who is legally an adult. Quite apart from the fact that I know damn well she isn’t, and that I wasn’t either at 18, it made me feel shockingly old and a little bit wise (which makes the old bit bearable)…

On her birthday, we had a big meal out with about 20 odd friends and family (both meanings of the word ‘odd’!) and I passed around lots of photos of her though the years and a journal I had bought, which invited guests to leave her a comment: I suggested that if they were over 25, they left something along the lines of ‘something I wish I’d known at 18 but didn’t’. Shockingly, or perhaps very British-ly (good grief, we might have to talk about something deeper than the weather!) only one person wrote something warm and wise, so, I’m going to run with this here, and hope that you’ll join in. I’m going to leave my top 3 ‘things I wish I’d known’: please, don’t be shy (or British) let me know yours too…if they’re really good, I’ll have them laminated and send you a copy by carrier pigeon 😉 I’m expecting something spectacular from Rule of Stupid involving badgers, spiderman and a length of twine.

1) THE INNER SELF

Putting a safety pin through your nose, crimping your hair and wearing an old man’s herringbone overcoat does not make you cool. You look like you fell into your grand-dad’s wardrobe after sticking your finger in a plug socket. You will not want to look like this forever, no matter what you think now- your mum was right when she laughed at you and told you that one day you’d wear pencil skirts to the office. I know this was not the reaction you wanted but don’t take it to heart. Oh, and take the safety pin out asap. One day it will really annoy you that you have a hole in the side of your nose which will never go away. In all seriousness, stop worrying about being cool i.e. how you appear to other people, and start thinking about who you want to be for yourself. Grow your insides and the rest will follow.

2. WORK

Just because you can sing, doesn’t mean one day someone will give you a recording contract. This goes for any talent you may have. The only difference between a dream and a reality is hard work. You have to actively seek the things you want and take risks to get them. Lighting a joint and pretending you are Prince’s backing singer will not get you a gig in a working man’s club let alone the Albert Hall.

3. LOVE

Love is a way of behaving not a word. If someone says they love you and then sleeps with your best friend, they don’t. If someones says they love you, you don’t have to say it back, sleep with them, forgive them for sleeping with your best friend or lend them a tenner. You will know when you truly love someone because you will stop worrying about yourself and your feelings and start putting them first: it won’t matter who loves who more and you won’t want to sleep with their best friend to get them back for sleeping with yours. Love is not the same as hurt: in fact, it’s the opposite. Ah, fuck it: just accept the fact that love probably won’t come in to it for the next decade and bad sex will have to do.

Well, that’s me done. Feel free to add to the list and if I ever have a time machine, that laminated list will come in really handy…

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November 21, 2012 · 12:16 am