Mind the gap
We’re giving a shout out to mothers this week because without them none of us would exist. Or if by some miracle we did exist we would all be miserable.
While every child needs a mother we know that being a mother to a child is no stroll in the park, no matter what role or stage in life. Fortunately mother’s hearts have more capacity than a Teslar battery. Those hearts never stop running and are fine tuned to feel everything their child feels: every bump and bruise and flutter and success. That’s the beautiful heartache of being a mother. Mothers get it all, know a lot and have seen it all before.
And it’s not only the hearts of mothers that are amazing.
So are their bodies. They get stretched beyond belief to grow a human inside, which is a wonder of wonders in itself. Then, once the babies are on the outside mothers are in charge of that fragile new life, which is the most terrifying of jobs when you’re new at it. They feed their babies with nourishment and love, on little sleep, with no formal training and often without any kind of instruction manual. It is pure instinct and quite a miracle.
Then there’s Groundhog Day to contend with. The never-ending lunchboxes that have to be emptied and refilled for school children 1000 times. The never-ending picking up of clothes and gifts and friends and homework and forgotten soccer boots from the never-ending list of activities with teenagers. And the never-ending uncertainty from babies through to adulthood as mothers worry that they’re kids are safe, coming home, staying out, running with a good crowd, alive, happy, or just OK.
Worrying is all part of the job and most mothers do it without letting on. A few grey hairs are the only sign, a streak of honour.
Other parts of the body change too. Hips go out after perching kids on them for hours on end while juggling meals and fielding work calls. Hands strengthen after a million meals, loads of washing and midnight cuddles back to sleep. Brains, after pregnancy, are actually sharper as pregnancy hormones can boost learning and memory bringing on multi-tasking that rivals any computer processor*.
Parts of the body that used to work, don’t work as well too. Just as eyes grow tired, so do muscles. Pelvic floor muscles, or kegels, sometimes pack up and refuse to work all the time. It’s should be another stripe of honour amongst mothers, especially as it’s so common with one in three experiencing some form of incontinence but it’s not often talked about.
What’s also not talked about is the unseen value of mothers. It’s not only what they do it’s what they represent. Mothers stand in the gap for their children. As Maya Angelou said, “They stand between the unknown and the known.”
Mothers may not have all the answers but they are the wide smile that nudges children on when they’re feeling unsure. They are the raised eyebrows when a dangerous path is being investigated. They are the legs or trousers or skirt to run back to when a child’s gone too far.
As children grow in confidence, they run back less. Then eventually once they leave home they hardly reach back at all, they don’t even look, and often they don’t even call or text.
They don’t need to. Because even from a great distance, mothers still stand tall in the gap. They are a constant reassurance that no matter what a child is doing, where they’re doing it, or how unsure they are about it, somebody is interested in the outcome.
Even if there is no outcome, mothers are still interested!
This is the one of the finest gifts mothers give their children; a rock solid foundation to spring from to tackle fears and foreign paths, always knowing there is somewhere safe to go back to. The foundation is built over a million minutes of listening and encouraging and hugs. It’s more important than the pile of washing that didn’t get folded, or lunchbox that wasn’t gourmet food, or designer furniture that never found its way into a bedroom, or birthday party that didn’t have the grandest cake.
It’s about being there, bridging the gap between the unknown and the known. It’s an invisible role and it is powerful.
Thanks to all the mothers who do this. Every day. Every month. Every year.