Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mother

"It'll seem different in the morning darling" she says with warm empathy tainting her normally pragmatic voice, "Everything's clearer in the light of day" she soothes.

"How? How will anything be different! " he protests, with anger and upset, making his voice quiver, "I'll still feel like shit. It's all fucked up I tell you totally fucked. Everything I did to make things good has turned out to be fucked. Everything. It's all been a waste of time. Good guys do finish last. I should be a total bastard!"

Her consolatory words are clearly missing their mark but she persists, "Not so. Uni wasn't a waste of time, it was an achievement and jobs, hey they come and go." He raises a disbelieving eyebrow, he's heard these words before from his overly optimistic and luck-charmed sister and he's in no mood for a 'pep' talk but she continues, "You have a wonderful partner, a loving family, a roof over your head. Things aren't so bad. Trust me, it'll all work out in the wash, be patient"

He gives her the 'don't lecture me' look because he doesn't really believe her but knows he's being self-indulgent. He's not going to give into guilt and he's certainly not going to be encouraged by her words but he will take them on board.

How does she know? She's his mother.

She holds him close. Actually she forces him close, since he's reluctant to engage in physical contact but he acquiesces out of respect. He'd rather be somewhere else than fussed over right now, let alone clinched in a seven second hug.

He's huge. A formidable bulk of manhood unshaven and unkempt. Hair scruffy but smelling sweet. His lumberjack arms tensed by his side. His  clothes slept-in and stinking of man sweat and beer but she does not release her grip. She hugs him tight and hard. He doesn't resist.  Then there's a change in his stalwart posture. He rests his head on her shoulder, drops his stiffened stance, slumps his shoulders, encircles her shrinking frame with his and allows rivers of tears to flow. It breaks her heart but she knows he needs the release.

How does she know? She is his mother.

Instantly she's transported to another time, while he takes solace in her embrace.

She is transported in that moment to 3:15am, 11th December 1986  and her husband isn't home. She's been having Braxton Hicks all night but they don't hurt. In fact they're strangely pleasant as she feels the pressure of the baby's head gently bearing down.  Just 20 minutes apart now and regular so she's on the phone every half hour giving him updates and begging him to hurry up, wind-up and come home. She knows that soon the back pain will kick in for he's her second, she's been through it before and she'll need to do more than straddle a dining chair, facing it's spine, and pretend that Le Mar's will assist before too long.

Finally he arrives. Starving after night shift, she cooks  him a hearty breakfast. Honey cured bacon and fried eggs, tomatoes, beans and toast and freshly brewed coffee that alert her two year old to the fact that the house is awake and the day about to begin.

The first twang hits the small of her back as she clears the  plates and he has his morning shower. He's tired. He should have finished at 11 but computers foul as if timed to foul when emergencies are imminent. She stands at the sink, legs spread apart to distribute the discomfort and washes all the dishes whilst biting her bottom lip and wincing as the tension escalates to pain.

In earnest now they hit  in waves of unbelievable veracity and velocity. She can feel them welling upwards from her inner thighs through her groin, deep through her pelvis and into the small of her back and the rise of nausea brings bile into her throat.  The wave crests, lasts about a minute then dissipates on some invisible shore and she smiles. This is sweet agony with an ultimate reward.

Ten minutes apart and it's time to go. The waves are literally beating the shoreline and she holds back the tears as the intensity rises and their frequency increases. She cannot sit, she cannot stand, she cannot lie. No position is comfortable save on all fours but with the weight of her extended belly, even that  bizarre pose pulls at her already tight skin and causes ructions.

"For fuck's sake what are you doing man?  Dress the kid and get me to the hospital"

She can feel this one is in a hurry. The toddler dressed in a combination of  red ribbed tights and a pink flanellette pyjama top, she begins to chastise him for his lack of wardrobe nouse but another wave stops her in her tracks and shuts her mouth. She breathes.

They bundle into the car. Every bump, every stone, every stop, every turn has her unravelled. This baby's coming now. They drop the toddler off at her mother's who is herself a midwife but cannot attend her daughter's birthing for fear of being too emotionally involved. She walks to the car "How are you darling?" . .  "I think I'm going to be sick" she says as nausea combines with another excruciating contraction.

"Ray, stop chatting and get out here now, this baby's not going to wait!"



They're ushered speedily to labour ward. This is intense. No really, this is very intense. Waters broken, a name unchosen, the love of her life feeding her ice and consolatory words. "Fuck off for goodness sakes!" she yells as another wave crashes and overwhelms the breathing that's supposed to help. "Gas, gimme gas . ." the harpie commands. Ray reaches for the outlet and mask against the wall and tenderly administers the oxygen and nitrous mix. She sucks it in as if just risen from a deep sea free dive and the contraction ends, the pain subsides.

She asks for an epidural, her daughter was born pain free and she was desperate to emulate her previous delivery but no time with this little one. No doctor, just an Indian nurse named Hadra who stands in wait, not even needing to verbalise instructions to push.

The bearing down is awesome, the pain is overwhelming but within seconds, small cries and a vernix covered slimy boy is in her arms. His father cuts the chord and he's  filling both their hearts with abject joy - a son. Our son. This amazing thing we made together, created by love, with love. This tiny little human, defenceless, quiet and submissive, beautiful and . . . blue! They're allowed a fleeting cuddle before he's whisked away and warmed under fluorescent lights.  A cup of tea, a painless stitch, an hour of worry and he is returned to latch upon her breast. 


She hasn't seen him  cry in years. Even as a small child, he rarely did but now, he's letting go and  letting her in. This massive man who thinks his woes are insurmountable as defenceless as the child she once embraced. She loves him now as she did that day.  She sometimes sees  him now as she did that day. Vulnerable and in need of nurture and protection. Her funny boy, her happy child, her constant gardener, her gourmet chef . . her son is sad beyond sad. Blue beyond blue and it strains her heart.

But she is stout of heart, sound of mind and warm of spirit. She is no stranger to pain or loss. She has survived, she lives, she loves and she has wisdom. She has two precious gifts and one of them needs her, now, so she willingly complies.

This is a hold, a hug, a heartfelt moment.  But she knows for fact that he will bounce back, things will be better in the morning.

How does she know? She is his mother.

1 comment:

  1. aw. shucks. mom is feeling very nostalgic these days. wonderful bit this is

    ReplyDelete