Posted by: Admin | December 7, 2010

I am a mother

This post is for the mothers of adult children – and the men who love them.

If you should ever cut me in half (though I can’t imagine any circumstance where you should want to do such a thing!) I swear you will find my children’s names running through me, like a stick of rock. It’s as if, when they cut the umbilical cord, a million invisible particles were set loose in my bloodstream, infusing me with a part of the soul of the child I had carried. Consequently, they are present in every cell of my body and, for me, this happened four times.

I believe there is no human experience more profound than the act of giving birth. It is equalled only by the experience of holding someone’s hand as they die: you are changed by it forever. Being a mother is almost a part of the DNA. A little while ago, I wrote about the mature female brain as described by Louann Brizendine, MD. I can relate to her theory that, biologically, when we reach the menopause our brains undergo chemical changes that damp down our protective maternal instincts and allow us to let go. To a point.

You see, you know that feeling we get when our 5 year old stands up on stage to sing in the school play, or our 10 year old takes his first piano exam; as if we are feeling their nerves ourselves? – that never goes away.

Distance is irrelevant: if my daughter is ill, I am willing to travel any distance to make sure she is warm and properly diagnosed. When my son is performing, I want to be there. Break my daughter’s heart and, if you see me in the street, I would advise you to duck into a shop for a I swear that I – yes, mild-mannered, crowd-pleasing, law-abiding me – is capable of punching you in the face. And stamping on your man bits as you lie on the ground.

They are adults now, of course, and neither need – nor want – me to fight their battles for them. Plus the last thing they need is to have to worry about me! I know, intellectually, that there is nothing I can do except support and hold my tongue on my advice, unless they ask for it. So how do I learn to be a sieve rather than a sponge?

My anxiety is totally pointless. It’s not as if, when they are experiencing difficult, painful things, I can kiss it better and draw a smiley face on a plaster and it will all be ok. My worrying and my love are draining my energy to no purpose. They can’t feel it, it doesn’t help them. But I feel for them. Uselessly, helplessly, pointlessly feel for them.

So tell me – how does a mother protect herself so that there’s something left when practical help is needed?

Answers on a postcard, please (or you could just comment below)



  1. Trust in the fact that you raised your children well. They are all intelligent and strong, capable and fierce when required.

    Trust that you imbued in them the ability to love completely and hate judiciously.

    Never underestimate the importance of your being there even if you are not called upon.

  2. Listen to Ben.

  3. Bless you both. However, one caveat – I have always taught my children that hate only hurts the hater in the long run. So if those feelings arise, let them be transient. Hateful actions almost always come from a place of fear.

  4. I agree. but with less big words…

    Hate is a hard thing to let go of, but you’re right you did teach us not to hate and it’s a shame that things happen that force that from us, but you did a good job. I for instance didn’t punch him in the face I smiled sweetly and was perfectly civil…this comes from you, because my part of the brain was screaming “just hit him”

    sometimes it does help to think wwmd (what would mum do) 😛 xxxx

  5. Also,

    “Treat people as you wish to be treated. Karma’s only a bitch if you are.”


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