I get what it means to grow someone from mere cells into a person. I get how it feels to have them dance around in your abdominal cavity at all hours of the day and night. I get the way you know life shall never be the same again. I get the pain and emotional turbulence that comes from getting them out into the world in one piece. I get how that pain and emotional turbulence actually just continues forever. I get the way it feels to be solely responsible for this other being and how it feels to want and need to put their needs and happiness above my own. I get how the worry for them starts with that very first indication that they exist. I get the way we dream about who they will be and what they will become. I get how it feels and what it means to be someone's Mummy.
Before Being Mummy, I could sympathise with Mothers. If I had a client come in for a haircut who looked over the moon to have just one hour to herself, away from the baby, I would laugh along with her about the trials and tribulations that had brought her to me as a collapsed heap in the chair. I would offer up tea and biscuits because I could sympathise with her tiredness and imagine how hard it must be. I would listen and make all the right sympathetic noises, along with a pat on the back for doing a good job as Mum, and then I would get on with life: just me. Nowadays, I am the mother collapsing in a heap into a chair and being handed a hot beverage and sugar boosts. I am the one fighting to keep my eyes open and relishing 60 minutes to myself.. if I'm lucky enough to get them. I now empathise with Mothers, because I am one and I get it.
With this new empathy and mother's perspective, a whole host of emotions have been opened up that I truly don't believe I could have had if I had never become Mummy. Lately, there have been a lot of posters up on social media showing appeals for children who have gone missing. My instant thought is 'Oh! His/her's poor parents!'. I can instantly feel the fear and dread they must be going through... so tangible I can almost taste it. Straight away my new empathy kicks in and I start to think of how we would feel in the same situation, and I picture our son's face being placed all over social media in a bid to return him home. Before Being Mummy, I would have thought 'Aww, that's sad' and then moved on with my scrolling. Not out of carelessness or lack of feeling. Simply because I didn't contemplate putting myself in the shoes of parents. How could I? I wasn't one. Even if I had tried to, it wouldn't have worked. The shoes wouldn't have fit!
Now, the shoes fit like a glove. And when I see sad tidings befall a fellow parent and their child and I can walk a mile in their shoes, I find the distance insurmountable and the shoes hurt my feet and leave blisters. My heart literally goes out to them and I find myself trapped in endless cliches such as 'Thinking of you', 'Sending you all my love', 'It makes you appreciate the little things' and my all time cringe inducing 'Life is too short'.
Recently, a family friend of mine and her adult son have received the worst news possible after his brave fight against cancer and they face the unthinkable right now. Both clinging together in the same boat at the moment, however he shall soon go down with the ship and she shall have to jump onto a life raft and find her way back to shore through storms of grief and unanswered questions. Why her? Why her son? Why any of it? It goes against natural law to lose a child. It is not how things are meant to be and the fact it happens just feels so damn cruel.
The only explanation that I can come up with, is that Mother Nature and Father Time like to show us the true value of their gifts. The value of time. Of experience. The value of creating a whole unique person and of every moment you spend with them. They both conspire to create some pretty heartbreaking circumstances in contrast with the spectacular.
That's the thing about Mother Nature and Father Time though. They have all bases covered. Because through their brutal lessons of life they give us little strategies to help us cope and one of them is empathy. And the beauty of empathy is that, any mother who loses their child need not feel alone. Because myself and every other mother can be beside her. And take turns in attempting to wear her shoes.
Update: I wrote this post a few months ago and wanted to wait a while before I posted it out of respect for the family friend I mention. She is now on her life raft and heading steadily back to shore. This post is dedicated to both her and her son. From a fellow Mummy who admires the love and courage that both they and their family have shown. All my love xxx