I’m not quite sure how this happened, but I have been talked into decided to take part in the Cancer Research Race for Life on 29 June, which involves running 5km around Epsom Downs racecourse (I know – me! running!!). There is a serious reason why I’m doing it, as there usually is for these things, which is that my mother died of ovarian cancer just over five years ago. It was also three months before Alice was born, meaning that neither of her younger granddaughters ever knew their Granny Maggie.
However hard it was watching my mother die when I was six months pregnant knowing that she would never hold my unborn child, it was nothing compared to having that baby without my mother there to support me, to help out or simply to be at the end of the telephone line to talk to. There were times in those first three months of Alice’s life when I resented her for being so dependent on me and changing my life so radically; resented every other woman who still had her own mother around; even resented my own mother-in-law for not being my mother.
My mother told me before she died that she didn’t think she had been a very good mother, which I immediately disagreed with, thinking she was being unnecessarily modest. However, five years and two daughters later, I am beginning to understand what she meant. Not that I think now that she wasn’t a good mother; I think she brought us up the way she thought best and didn’t do that bad a job of it either. But there are plenty of times when I feel that I’m not a very good mother myself – when I say ‘in a minute’ to a request to play or read or listen and that minute never ends – when I shout because I’m tired and it’s easier to raise my voice than to lower it – when I look in the mirror and see that the frown lines on my forehead are a little deeper than yesterday.
For me, the hardest part of being a mother is not having my own available to talk to about the minutiae of bringing up children or to ask about what it was like when I was their age. So I’m breaking my no running rule and doing Race for Life in the hope that fewer mothers in the future will go through the same – and fathers too.
Should you feel so inclined please visit my fundraising page and donate as much or as little as you can, remembering to Gift Aid your donation of course.