Who Mothers The Mothers?



When I told my Mum I was thinking of adopting I’m sure she was worried but graciously hid her concerns. I’m sure she was aware of the naivety with which I set foot but encouraged me every step of the way.

It began and has continued with adoption and childcare related articles arriving in the post. She was like a one women research unit sending facts, figures and examples, both good and bad. Like a strange sooth sayer, articles from her would arrive on subjects I was just about to consider, or inspiring stories precisely when I needed cheer-leading.

Other times parcels would be sent or given. I had become unemployed very quickly as my daughter could not manage school and money was tight. Cat food, homemade jam, socks, wellies, cake, vegetables, children’s books, vitamins, seeds. Quirky but perfect if you know us.

She didn’t get cross or even mildly irritated when my six year old put weed killer all over her store of home baking in the freezer. Nor did she bat an eyelid when the window got put through on the day we dog sat.

Very quickly my Mum became a key figure in my daughters life. Like a Zen Granny, patient, curious and non reactive. Where others more expert and professional would flounder in the face of extreme behaviour she just was. Gentle and unflustered. It was as if she had graduated with a PHD from the university of Dan Hughes  in between the supermarket and cooking everyone’s tea.

At the times when I was so pushed to my limit that I wanted to explode, I would bring her to mind. I would also say her name to my daughter when she felt the same. At the moments we wanted to kill each other I would say, “Imagine Granny was here”.  It was as if in our atheist household she was the head of The Karma Fairies, an omnipresent but forgiving goddess.

I hid lots of things from my Mum. The extent of our struggles and the intensity of the drama that played out over the years. It felt like one of those necessary  lies. The type that kindly prevents the worrying and sleepless nights that particularly Mothers are prone to. But the truth was revealed quite suddenly and without edit when we hit a crisis so major it was undeniable.

As ever she took it on the chin and loved my daughter more at a time when others struggled with feelings of protecting me above all else. The non judgement was precisely what was needed. The articles that arrived became more political and in them an unsaid encouragement to me to fight back, to not give up, to know we were right.

As my daughter is transitioning into adulthood I am reflecting on what we have learnt and using that to inform us on how we may best be able to support others.

Part of that reflection is the realisation that I couldn’t have survived without the support of my Mum. It makes me wonder about the mothers who do not have the support from their Mums (or mum figures) either in the present or through the maternal lines of their history.

My Mum could teach me because her mum taught her and with this I can be a good enough mum myself.

It makes me worried that some mums, birth, adoptive, and foster may have to rely on the state for support in the absence of an available/financially solvent parent. The state as the surrogate mum that is at times more a cruel and stingy nanny. A morally bereft mum that judges and ignores and doesn’t listen properly.

Us mothers are often pitted against each other in the complicated dialogue of neglect and care. But the more we fight together for early intervention to mother the mothers, the more the wheels of karma may be oiled and the safer our children and our children’s children will be.

15 thoughts on “Who Mothers The Mothers?

  1. Pingback: Who Mothers The Mothers? | The Open Nest

  2. One of the things I’m (in 20/20 hindsight as an adult) sad about is that because I struggled so much with trying to work out the world and myself, is that I didn’t seem to learn much about being a mom. I was too busy trying to deny everything “that girls do” to learn how to do things like cook and knit and sew, and parent. That Daughter has grown up as lovely and as sane as she has has been down to far more luck than judgement – with a side-helping of tons of help from (a)mom ((a)dad died well over a decade ago so couldn’t be there to help, but no doubt would’ve done).

    My only hope is that if Daughter does have kids (one or many) at some stage in the future, that she’s picked up far more from (a)mom than I managed to. I’m hoping it’ll have been that way since she didn’t have to sit trying to work the world and herself out in the ways (at least closed-adoption) adoptees have to.

    • Thanks for your comments. I get the feeling you are a great parent because you are open and honest and thoughtful about the issues that may come up. Really enjoyed reading your post too! Xxx

  3. From one atheist adoption blogger to another (there doesn’t seem to be many of us;) I really enjoyed your post. Sounds like you have a fantastic mother and role model and now you are doing the same for your daughter. I lost my mom when I was 20 and my mother in law lives 3 hours away with no other family any closer. Sometimes it feels very lonely and I get sad, but I am fortunate to have a good support system of friends both, near and far, and I know ‘the system’ because of my job. I can’t tell you how many times I have thought your thoughts – if you aren’t lucky to have positive role models or supports how the heck do you get by? I’ve worked with many parents who if they only had positive, early intervention supports would have had much better outcomes for themselves and their children. Thanks for a great post:)

    • Thank you very much for your comments. I also have had great support from friends which counts for loads doesn’t it. While I’m here at my daughters with wifi ( a rare occurrence!) just want to say how much I enjoy your blog too. The picture of your boy with his cat and their story melted my heart! Xxx

  4. I often have the same wonderings. My own parenting has had a massive impact on the way I do things, and this was something that our homestudy covered in huge amounts of details, my own upbringing was positive (and my relationship with my mum has strengthened since having children), what about those who don’t have such a positive childhood, or relationships with their parents?

    Thanks for sharing this with the Weekly Adoption Shout Out x

    • Thank you for your reply. I feel very lucky to have my Mums support especially as I’m sure she didn’t know the extent of what we were all signing up for!! We really hope in the future to offer support to birth mums but realise it is a complicated and sensitive political issue where budgets are concerned.
      There seems to be a missing connection at times that by helping mums you are really helping the children. Xxx

  5. Your mum sounds wonderful, not unlike my own I must say. For me living without that tower of strength seems unimaginable and I have often wondered myself how others manage without.I feel very blessed (not in a religious way, not a complete atheist but definitely uncertain). When I look at my boys BM, although I only met her briefly and her story has been told to me by others, I feel so sad that she is a victim of her own up bringing and a lack of positive role models. She loves those boys but had not been taught how to look after them, having not been cared for herself. I really would like to see more being done to break this cycle.

    Thank you again for linking up to the weekly Adoption Shout Out. xx

  6. Beautiful and moving, thank you. Our Mother sounds very similar. She has seen us and the children on their worse days yet don’t hold it against anyone or apportion any blame. The only thing that shocks her is how others who should know better (teachers, SW’s, doctors etc) just don’t have a clue. So when we had crises it was my mum we called on to rescue, regulate, repair, and rejuvenate. Thank you for your blog and thank you to all mums who support and rescue us.

  7. Lovely. Although my mum just doesn’t seem to get adoption stuff (pups V gd at perfect grandchild act) she’s bn a great support. Her mum died before teen years…I don’t know where she found the strength to parent (not from religion anyway).

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s