“That’s what being a mother is about.”

imageWhen the people carrier pulled in beside me and the passenger window wound down, I expected to be asked for directions.

The lone woman inside leaned over and said: “I’m sorry about my skank of a son.”

I was taken aback; firstly that she wasn’t lost, at least not in the way I expected, but also because that harsh sounding word seemed completely out of place coming from this middle-aged, ordinary looking woman.

Even though I sort of knew, I asked: “Who is your son?”

“He lives in your block,” she said.

She looked tired. Tired and worn down. How many other neighbours had she apologised to in her time?

He had moved in a few months previously and while it was clear his problems hadn’t just sprung up overnight I’m very much a live and let live kind of person – as long as he is not hurting anyone else.

Although, in this case, he seemed to be hurting her. Very much.

“Is he getting any help?” I asked.

“Only from me and I work full time. It’s hard,” on a sigh she looked down at her hand, resting on the seat. Her gold wedding band looked almost too big on her thin finger.

From our flat I had seen her visit him and I knew she often dropped him off on a Sunday afternoon. I imagined she’d fed him a lovely roast dinner, maybe with his siblings or his grandmother sat around the dining table. He always carried a plate covered in foil and what looked like a bag of clean washing when he came home, which would later be hung on an airer in the front window.

There was always a certain smell seeping out from under his front door and I remember thinking that I bet his clean clothes soon reeked, although I imagine he had bigger problems to worry about.

“It must be really difficult.” I said, thinking that was probably the understatement of the year.

She nodded: “I’m sorry if he’s noisy or causes trouble.”

“To be fair, I haven’t heard any noise.” I answered truthfully. Every time I had seen him he’d looked slightly out of it but he’d held the door open for me a couple of times. “Also, it’s not your fault if he does.”

“Well, he’s still my son and even though he’ll be 29 on Friday I still feel responsible for him. You’ll be the same with your little one.” She looked down at baby Freya in her pram on the path with a sad sort of smile. “That’s what being a mother is about.”

We said our goodbyes after that but a few weeks later things kicked off, eventually leading to police raids on his flat – although he was long gone by then.

Who knows where.

He never did return. His washing was left hanging in the window for months until the landlord cleared it all out ready for a new tenant.

After all the drama, one of the neighbours said: “I don’t know why they put people like that near decent families.”

And I thought of his mum.

A decent woman doing her best to raise a decent family.
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22 thoughts on ““That’s what being a mother is about.”

  1. This has made me cry Tara, you are so right! As a struggling parent, I have to learn to accept that I can only guide our children and hope they follow, I can’t make them or keep them wrapped up warm in their prams forever – although I wish I could, life was so much simpler xxx

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    1. Lisa! I’ve been checking your blog regularly and worrying about you. Are you ok? Sorry this made you cry. I think that’s what she was trying to tell me. It must be so hard though.

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    1. Thank you. Exactly, she just carried on being his mum but it must have been so hard both to see him in such a state and not have any power to make him better. I really felt for her (and also a bit helpless too). Thanks for commenting, I really appreciate it.

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  2. My vision throughout your tale was of a skinny, scruffy looking youth. Poor lady, I guess we will never cut the ties that bind us to our children. One can only hope by that stage in life our kids can carve their own way in the world successfully.

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    1. Your vision is spot on, although he always looked clean (thanks to his mum). I wish I could have said something more comforting to her but what can you say? It must have been a nightmare.

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  3. As a mum of a 30 year old and a 28 year old, yes you never stop worrying. I don’t think we realise when we hold that little bundle of joy in our arms that we’ll spend the rest of our lives worrying about them.
    It’s horrible the way addiction can rob families of their loved ones. I remember a documentary on TV of a woman who’s daughter was addicted to heroine. She lost her marriage and her home as well I seem to recall trying to help her daughter. Very sad.

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    1. I think you’re right. My mum says I am more worry now than when I was a baby (for some reason she didn’t get quite the same thrill as me when I had to head overseas for work :)) That documentary sounds very sad. I definitely felt for his mum.

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    1. It was a partly interesting/partly worrying couple of months for us when the flat was (allegedly) used for dealing. All sorts of people in and out every 15 minutes 24/7. But then it’s over for us. I wonder about them too. Thanks for commenting. Fingers crossed for the BIBs 🙂

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  4. Oh how sad. And that poor woman. I have family with problems, let’s say, and no matter what they do or say, and no matter how hurtful they can be, their mother remains just that, their mother.

    Beautifully written Tara x

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    1. I know, I really felt for her. She seemed so worn down by it all and yet determined just to be there for him. An amazing testament to motherhood, really. Thanks for commenting. I hope you’re having a good day 🙂

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  5. Tara, I really enjoyed this story! I need to think of that mum when I start to judge others actions. Most of the time they have a frightening past or got into the wrong crowd and never recover. So sad.

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    1. Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed it, much appreciated. I have to say my heart sank a bit when he first moved in but I realised, even before meeting his mum, that really it could so easily have been me if I’d taken a wrong turn. You’re right though, it is really sad.

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  6. That last line sums it up really doesn’t it. It’s so easy to write people off as being problems and to forget that they are someone’s son, someone’s daughter and that once upon a time they were innocent children. A very powerful and sad story.

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  7. Hi Tara, that poor Mum! Once a parent always a parent, even when things are beyond our control we still feel responsible. It’s another good reason why should stop before we judge people.

    I hope her son sorts himself out for her sake, if not his own.

    xx

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