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  • Writer's pictureDonné Restom

Apology to my mother: If I knew then what I know now

There are some things that only a mother can understand.

This article originally appeared on Kidspot.

Dear Mum,

I don’t think I’ve ever really told you that I’m sorry.

There have been the perfunctory sorries: I’m sorry I put the Global knives in the dishwasher; I’m sorry I borrowed your hairdryer and never returned it; I’m sorry I left the window open while the heater was on.

There have been the sarcastic ones too: Oh well, I’m just SO sorry for living!

Not to mention the self-serving ones: I’m really sorry I crashed the car (because now I don’t have a car to drive).

I will even pay heed to some of the guilt-ridden, more sincere sorries: The I’m sorry we had that huge party in your house while you were away, drank all the nice wine, broke some of your things and now all the neighbours hate you, kind of sorry.

But these are not the apologies I want to address.

There is a deeper sorry that needs to be expressed. It is the empathetic sorry. The sorry I was incapable of even fathoming before now – before I became a mother myself.

These are the 35 years’ overdue sorries.

I’m sorry I called you a martyr

I didn’t understand that your exhaustion, anxiety and distress were not exaggerated. In fact, these things are so great and so utterly unrelenting that it is completely impossible for anyone who is not a mother to understand.

You are not, and never have been a martyr.

You are an athlete – a cross-country marathon runner competing at altitude for life or death stakes with no prior training, no finish line and no crowd to cheer you on. You are a champion.

I’m sorry I neglected to tell you I wouldn’t be coming home

I used to think you were silly, being unable to really rest unless you knew I was safe. I just didn’t get how deeply my wellbeing impacts on yours. And it’s not just mental, it’s visceral.

It plugs away at your guts until safety is assured. It’s irrational and it cares not for sleep. In fact it steals your sleep – what little you had left.

If I had known the things I know now, I would have bowed down at the alter of your sleep and lit a thousand candles. I would have made mandalas for your sleep and whispered it lullabies. I would have fed it, nourished it and restored the hours that were taken with every ounce of my being.

I’m sorry I wouldn’t let you get hysterical

“Stop it, you’re being hysterical.”

How you must loathe that sentence. For hysteria is simply a great outpouring of emotion. The capacity for great emotions enables great love – and this is what enabled you to love us so greatly.

Yet, motherhood demands the habitual stifling of our emotions. So we keep the peace with our husbands, so we don’t scare the children.

If it’s not too late, I would like to encourage your hysteria. I would like to hold your hand on a windy bluff and scream it all out until we are laughing and crying at the same time.

I’m sorry I whinged about doing a little housework

Oh God, one year into motherhood and I already feel like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, scurrying around the house, picking up stuff – the never-ending deluge of stuff and things and non-descript messes. It is now, only now that I truly understand.

The chore list: it should be sacrosanct.

I’m sorry I didn’t thank you every day for the work that you do

With those long hours and ceaseless servitude, any other job would have given you a raise, a certificate, or at least a big shiny trophy once a year. In any other job, a vacation means you don’t have take your work with you. But you did. And you still managed to make it look fun.

Every day should have ended with a thank you, because every day you were on the clock.

For all this and more Mum, I’m sorry.

But there are some things I won’t apologise for

I’m not sorry that you had me. And I’m not sorry that I have you. I will make no apology for the way I was raised. I am just as grateful for my scars as I am of my strengths; it is these things that have shaped me into the type of individual that I am – and that I am proud to be.

I also refuse to apologise for this one last thing: I am proud of you.

You raised us and lived. I have only experienced fraction of your hardship, and yet you inspire me every day to keep going.

Because there may not be an end to it all, but there is always light to be found in the tunnel.

Love and kisses,

Your ungrateful little snot of a daughter.


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