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dimanche 29 mai 2011


Today was Mothers' Day here in France, and I pretty much screwed up. Damn you, Don Draper, and those sexy, manly shoulders and brooding stare...

Yeah, I stayed up waaaaay too late last night, meaning I spent all of today exhausted. I got up late (but before the girls got home all the same), spent far too long making lunch, worked during the afternoon and then napped till supper time. No nice walk into town for an icecream (my original plan), not even a trip to the botanical gardens...

But I received beautiful things from my little girls - made with love. A hand-painted mug (bought at IKEA apparently! How appropriate) and wonderful card from C, a little secrets box and poem and handmade card from L. They also, with D, bought a plant at the Parents' Association plant sale on Friday. It was wonderfully touching and moving. I love these two little girls so much!

I often think of my own mother. I don't miss her (she died in August 2003 after many years of early-onset dementia, and the last 2 or 3 were horrendous: she was completely dependent on my father, had no idea who she was, where she was, who anyone else was...) because we were never really very close. She just wasn't the touchy-feely-cuddly type, and she was certainly never my confidente. But I do miss the mother I never had. I'm so envious of all these people who have a strong relationship with their mother. I miss seeing what kind of grandmother she would have been (I think she'd have been a better grandmother than mother, to be honest). I miss that mythical mother I dreamed of. Don't get me wrong - she loved me, I loved her, our relationship was pretty good. But she had no idea who I was, she hated letting me grow up (and tried desperately to keep me a child. I blame her for my social ineptness - she never taught me anything "grown up", like how to put on make-up, how to talk to boys. She never even gave me "the talk", I had to find out by myself), she resented me for having the life she thought she should have had (a university education) and for spoiling the life she did have (a high-powered personal assistant in a large petrochemicals firm near London, earning good money and having fun in the Swinging Sixties). I'm pretty sure she didn't actually want children at all - my parents were married for 13 years before I was born, and I'm an only child...

No, my mother had no idea what I was thinking, what my dreams were, who I was.

I have no idea what kind of relationship we would have had now if she hadn't developed dementia. I know I would never have wanted her present for the birth of the girls (as I said, no touchy-feely stuff from her), but having her around in the weeks or months that followed might have been nice.

I don't know, it's so hard to say. She was my mother, and she was the way she was. I DO miss her, in some ways, but given how she spent the last few years of her life, I considered her death to be a blessed relief to be honest. She was surviving, technically alive, but for what? She had no life to speak of... I miss some of the fun times we had together (we did have fun together, as long as we remained on neutral ground and never broke down and talked - oh, the horror! - of our feelings and emotions), I miss lots of things about her. But mostly, as I said already, I miss the mother I wish I had had.

In these last few months, when life has been so hard, my strength has come solely from my desire to always do the best I can for my sweet girls. Their love for me, and mine for them, are what keep me sane. I just hope and pray that the relationship I have with them will be better than the one I had with my own mother. I want to be part of their lives, I want to be the person they can talk to, turn to when they need advice or sympathy or just someone who will listen.

Today was Mothers' Day here in France and yes, I screwed up. But the essential was there: my girls and I spent time together, and they love me and I love them. Together, the three of us are strong, united and hopeful. Our future - THEIR future - will be better because of the love we have for each other today.

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