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Easy Life?

Who said life was easy?

My mother died when I was a teenager. Many years have passed but I’m still learning about her, not from family or friends. When she married my father she distanced herself from the only friend she had and there is no family.

My mother is still a mystery to me. I discovered many things about her after her death, through letters and legal documents. Photos revealed a woman who was a far cry from the old-fashioned, prim and proper mother I knew.

Writing has helped me sort out my feelings and offered perspective. Friends never understand how I’ve forgiven her for the miserable childhood  I had.

As a mother I’ve struggled to understand the hows and the whys. I also missed the special bond most mothers and daughters have when a grandchild is born. Knowing this would not have happened didn’t lessen the void. Seeing friends with their mothers sometimes hurt.

Life is a long path of recognition and learning. Not so long ago, it finally dawned on me that more than having just grown up in difficult circumstances, my mother was suffering from a mental illness.

It all came clear to me that morning. Why did I never even suspect it? I was raised not to question things, but I did. I kept it all to myself. But my mother, well, I was so afraid of her. She was so strong, indomitable.

All the crazy spells, smiling and screaming the next minute, throwing a basin full of water at me in public, trashing my room in the middle of night while raving.

Still, I didn’t click. Because for years I lived with guilt, like many children who have suffered abuse, I thought it all my fault. I was conditioned to believe everything that happened was somehow my fault. It’s not easy shaking those labels.

Her son from a previous marriage is schizophrenic. I wasn’t told this until after she had died. It was not something my mother wanted known, another secret under the carpet. I didn’t even find out he was my half-brother until I was 12. He terrorized me through my childhood. I remember my mother taking him to this centre, it was only years later that I learned what this centre was.

So here I am, all these years later, proud mummy to my gorgeous children. Who said life was easy? But one thing is for sure, you learn something every day, and with love you cannot go wrong.

After I had nowhere left to hide

 

My mother had a habit of squirrelling money away, not that she really needed to, it was her safety net. When she died,it caused my father a huge headache, trying to trace all her different accounts, some active, others not.

She wasn’t materialistic and never spent much on herself, when she did, she’d hide the fact or felt obliged to justify herself. In some ways, I am a little bit like that too but I think it’s all too common for mums in general.

She did once tell me the story of how when her grandmother was dying, she told my mum where she  had hidden her little nest egg and she wanted her to have it. My mother, being a dutiful daughter told her mother who promptly took it all away.

My mother was at the time married to a violent man. He beat her up whilst pregnant with her son.In those days, divorce was much frowned upon. Eventually, despite her hopes of  ever happy family, she came to the conclusion that she would have to leave.

She was a formidable woman, not the kind you can push around easily, she was also very strong-willed and stubborn, it runs in the family, on the women side anyway.

It goes to show abuse knows no boundaries or classes.

My mother came from a very well to do family, her divorce was seen a complete disgrace. She struggled to raise her son without any help, her own wealthy parents never lifting a finger.

By the time she met my father, she’d done well for herself and had some security. She never fully trusted my father, even though they had a child together, yes, me.

I always remember her telling me that when I married, I was to hide all assets and not share everything I owned.

Sadly, she never did get to enjoy the benefits of her hard work and savings, she became very ill and died when I was a teenager. I watched her becoming very weak, a shadow of herself, yet, she could still terrify everybody, myself included.

I’m not materialistic at all and dislike talking or even thinking about money. I’m not a great spender either but do enjoy splashing out on my children.

When it comes to trust, I could not live with someone I didn’t trust wholly and completely. I’m not just talking about money but much more than that, this deep knowledge that you are loved and respected.

Friends who know my background have often wondered how I could talk about my mother in a positive way after the childhood I had. Well, first of all, she was my mother and I loved her, growing up, I didn’t know any different.

Piecing it altogether, I can reflect on the fact she also had an unhappy childhood and she endured many struggles. Her illness and subsequent death were an almighty shock.

The more I grew in myself, the more I understood her and how difficult life had been for her at times.

Even after all these years, I still think of her and understand a little more all the time. There are many things I wish I could tell her as an adult and no longer the frightened little girl I was.

When I became a mum myself I watched friends with their mums feeling a little pang, we wouldn’t have had that sort of relationship, I know but…

I strive to do the best I can for my children. Nothing else matters more to me than being a loving mum with happy and well-balanced children.No achievement of any kind could prevail over this.

I’m the lucky one, I broke the vicious circle in my family, friends will know what I’m talking about. No matter what happens in your past, you can change and prevent history from being repeated.

First I ran, found myself and when I had nowhere left to hide I confronted my past.

 

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Where is home anyway?

A post inspired by:

H- Home is Where the Heart is

I’m British but grew up all over the place, so for a long time nowhere felt like home. I feel quite bohemian.

Since I’ve had my kids, anywhere I am with them is fine by me as long as they’re happy.

I do feel a strong connection with France though and I have a special place in Portugal. I don’t know why but I feel at peace there, plus they adore children.

Also, I speak French fluently and haven’t got tired of confusing the French. When they hear me switching from English to French without accent, they think I am indeed French, hilarious.

 

Don’t mess with a mum!

Today was a shocker. You think you’re safe, you do everything you can to protect your family and then something happens…

Two guys broke into our property in broad daylight. They had a ladder and forced part of our fence. I was still lying in bed, cuddling my son when I heard footsteps around the house.

While we called the police, I screamed at them and fortunately for us they fled. They probably thought the house was empty.

As you can imagine, I was very angry but as soon as peace had been restored I was shaking like a leaf. I know we were lucky but I still felt violated.

I have a strong issue with safety, having lived in fear for many years, some of you will know why. The dear one knows this and has always endeavoured to make me feel safe.

I need my haven, the place I can retreat to, away from it all. I need the gates that keep unwanted visitors away. I need to know my children are safe when they play in our garden.

And yes, I know, we can never be completely safe but I’ll give it a damn good try. My children, though very scared, were very proud of their Mummy. I roared like a lion. Don’t mess with a protective mum!

https://elleamberley.wordpress.com/2010/03/07/living-in-fear/

Staying at home with the kids

A post in response to my friend Peryl’s post :

” There are a lot of people – politicos, authors, strangers at Starbucks, my mother, to name a few – who question the absolute value of the work of a stay-at-home mother.

Linda Hirshman, Author of Get to work: A Manifesto for Women of the World famously said: “women who quit their jobs to stay home with their children [are] making a mistake….the tasks of housekeeping and child rearing [are] not worthy of the full time and talents of intelligent and educated human beings. “

My take on the matter :

It’s a personal choice.
What about just enjoying your children, they grow up so quickly!
I find being with my children fulfilling, they are so inquisitive and full of life, so enthusiastic!
I suppose a lot of it depends what you do with your time.
Personally I feel so overstimulated, I fear for my brain.
Maybe that explains the encephalitis I had last week.
I stay at home, well,  in between all the travelling that is.
Now where am I again ?
Oh yes, back in Paris, for now..
I’m proud to say I look after my children, I home-educate them (they are bilingual).We’re always busy busy busy.
Somehow in the midst of all that I write. I’ve got 2 books on the go, one in english and the other one in french.
Whatever  possessed me to start writing in french ?!
So there you are, I ‘m probably a bit mad and a bit too creative.
Let’s enjoy our Mummy time while it lasts.You can never experience these early years again.

P.S. Don’t forget to read my friend’s blog, it’s a brilliant read and she often makes me laugh.

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Mr Whinger and co

Yep, you know the type, always complaining and it never is their fault! I lived with  a whinger once, it exhausted me and slowly took my spirit away little by little.

If they do get to apologise, it is invariably followed by a “if” or a “but”.Well, what does that mean? ☹

Either you’re sorry or you’re not ! Saying “I’m sorry if I hurt you” or  “I’m sorry but …” doesn’t really say you’re sorry but implies somehow you’re the one to blame or  being difficult.It trivialises the issue.

I tend to be a giver, a carer and a worrier.I’m the shoulder people cry on but sometimes I need to offload too.

When I first met Mr Whinger, I was a bubbly person. ☺

I’ve always been optimistic and he was Mr Pessimistic.After a while, it rubs off on you, you try and resist it but ultimately it wore me down, probably because I was going through a very difficult time and I was rather poorly.Where was my shoulder for me to cry on?

So after all the crises and the loneliness I had to make a choice but hey, life is full of them, isn’t it?!

One thing I also found is that living with a pessimistic ruins your social life, friends wanted to meet up with me but curiously they wer never too keen to visit us at home.

I’m really sorry for Mr Whinger by the way, sorry you thought the whole world was against you and you isolated yourself not letting anyone in.I wished you’d let me in,I had so much love to give and you knew it, only didn’t know how to respond to it.

☆ “It takes a genius to whine appealingly.” F.Scott Fitzgerald quote

cuddles …always


What makes a good mum?

  • I try my best.I’m not perfect.
  • I do try to instil optimism and self-confidence to my children.
  • I give them all my love and lots of  cuddles

The hardest part is when you realise you cannot make things better all the time.

Sometimes, try as you might, cuddles will not make the hurting go away or the tears go away.

Not straight away !

My son, so sensitive, easily upset.It takes time and patience to comfort him.When he was a baby,I thought I’d suddenly become a bad mother overnight.He used to cry so much and scream.I used to find it unbearable and then one day I realised that was his way.Yes,he was still crying but he was also reassured by my presence and comforted by my cuddles

It had been different with my daughter,she was also forever in my arms.She too is  very sensitive but the minute I’d pick her up, she would stop crying and she was always smiling.I guess you do it once and everything is so perfect, you think you know it all.

All children are different.Mine are very alike but they do have their differences too.

Motherhood is a constant learning process, you have to go with the flow sometimes,trust your instincts, adapt constantly and relax.

You should also learn not to blame yourself constantly.There are up and downs, it’s part of the learning curve.Life is never perfect, nor are mothers!