Monday, May 7, 2007

Tub of mum

A friend of mine was telling me the other day that her young son has gone off the rails. He's not dealing drugs or stealing. No. It's much worse than that. He's into rap. Now if you want to hurt your mother, particularly if her politics are anything like progressive and her taste in music is indie lite, this is probably the way to go. One of her concerns in handling this nightmare is that the child will internalise any conflict, and his view of her will be soured by it. I say beat the little shit with a cane and let his psychiatrist sort it out in 20 years.

But the truth of it is that he will not be upset by her putting her foot down (say, by not allowing him to watch music TV). He will love her all the more for caring. Boys are like that. We strain and rebel against the love our mothers give us but we appreciate it all the same.

I had plenty of conflict with my mother when I was a boy. Sometimes it ended in my being clouted and sometimes in shouting on both sides. It didn't do me much harm and my enduring impression of my mother is more than favourable. When I think about how our lives were as children, and how my mother was, what I recall was how much she sacrificed for us, particularly given that she was by today's standards a very young mother. She spent her early twenties not pubbing and clubbing but bringing up three kids almost singlehanded. (Of course, that was her choice, but I don't think it was a particularly well-informed one.)

One of my oldest memories is of my mother and I walking the two miles from Helston to Porthleven, her pushing my sister's pram (or my pushchair; I'm hazy how old I was then, two or three) and me hanging on to the handle, the dog tied to the other. In my other hand I am holding a pot of mousse, still frozen, which I am eating, a poor man's ice-cream. The mousse is my treat, which I had every week without fail. We are walking because my mother has spent her last tuppence on it, rather than take the bus.

I don't eat tubs of mousse these days. But whenever I see them in the supermarket, I'm reminded of my mother. I do not know what she would think of her memorial's being a pot of fake-strawberry chemicals and milk but you do not get to choose how your children remember you. And I think that if you are a mother, unless you take a truly heinous path, you are destined to be loved, and rightly so.


Anonymous Looney said...

Ah, lovely remembrance. I think your mother would be pleased with your memory. The little things are sometimes the most tangible symbols of a mother's love.

I too had a ton of conflict with my mother. She'd holler and sometimes give me a good smack, but she also sacrificed for my brother and I, and raised us singlehandedly (not entirely by choice, but that's a whole separate topic.)

My mother was far from perfect, and she has lots of regrets about the way she raised us. I think she's wrong to feel that way. One thing we knew in our hearts was that mom was doing her very best, fighting the uphill battle, one that many lose, but she won.

May 7, 2007 at 5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

boots sez:

This piece speaks from the soul, Zen.

May 7, 2007 at 10:31 PM  

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