Like most mothers, I imagine, I would do anything for my kids. Because I want to make sure they’re as happy as possible. And, in the ten years since I became a mother, I have discovered that, to achieve this happiness, I am capable of doing things which – pre-kids – I didn’t think I would, or could.
Take morning sickness.
In many respects I am proud, and pleased, to take after my mother. In inheriting her propensity to during-pregnancy violent-vomiting, I am not. Pregnant with my first, I was less ‘blooming’, more ‘wilting’ as I spent the first trimester, and much of the second, within retching distance of a loo. My bed was my home, anything edible my enemy, even smelling – let alone sampling food – made me feel like I’d crossed the English channel in a Force 9 gale. ‘How much longer can this go on?’ I’d moan, clutching my tender stomach and making my way slowly up the stairs to re-adopt the almost permanently prone position. I was, to all intents and purpose, utterly useless.
Six months after the birth of firstborn Sensible Son, I was, once again, with child, and thus, inevitably with morning sickness. Only this time round it was different. The symptoms unfortunately, were just the same: the inability to eat, the drunken-sailor feel, the desire to spend the vast majority of my days in bed. It was only my reality that had actually altered. Because now, of course, I had a tiny baby to care for who was blissfully oblivious to the fact that, when he woke his mother for 2, 4 and 6.45am feeds, she felt like she’d downed more than a couple of bottles of Claret the night before. A small person who didn’t much fancy waiting patiently for his mashed banana and avocado mush whilst his mother plucked up the courage to open the fridge door. An infant for whom staying in his cot all day gurgling whilst his mother quelled her queasiness in bed, was about as likely as him sleeping through the night. Whether I felt like it or not, my baby needed feeding, changing, entertaining. And so, of course, I got on with it. Not always, I’ll admit, with a smile on my face, but got on with it nevertheless. I coped; I overcame.
And this ability to ‘overcome’ for the good of my boys continues as they grow.
So I dry them on the beach first, and then worry about my always-frozen self.
I read them a bedtime story despite having a head which pounds like Big Ben.
I get them to school, fully dressed and on time, whilst feeling rough as rats with flu.
But, I have discovered this week that there is a threshold of ‘overcoming’ I cannot cross.
Because youngest Feisty Fellow’s topic this term is – birds. And I don’t ‘do’ birds.
I’d go further. Ever since a large gander named Sid leapt on top of six year old me, I have been petrified (with a capital ‘P’) of our feathered friends. I run away from sparrows, can’t share a pub garden with ducks, struggle even to touch a picture of a bird in an innocuous boy book.
‘Mum,’ says Feisty Fellow excitedly, brandishing an RSPB leaflet, ‘Can we visit one of these bird sanctuaries so that I can study the birds?’
I shiver. Consult my petrol tank of maternal ability to overcome. And, to my embarrassment, find it woefully empty.
‘I’m a… um… little bit err… busy,’ I bluster unconvincingly. ‘Why don’t you take dad?’