Photograph: Alexander Mayes Photography
I met my mother quite a long time ago, when I was born. I don't remember it. Mind you, she assures me, neither does she. Best practice for childbirth in our case (and with the trouble I apparently caused) saw her knocked out entirely when I was born. She's not sure how many hours or days passed before she came to. ...But that's another story...
Thirty something years after that I became a mother.
And somewhere in between, I spent a lot of years thinking about mothers, understanding mothers and mothering from mothers themselves, wrestling with what it means to be a mother, to become a mother, and how this all happens in the context of disability.
In fact, I wrote a book about it.
Its publication was not proceeded by a great fanfare. Oprah didn't phone, wanting to discuss it. In fact, in the absence of any phone calls I rang the two people I thought might be excited about it: my mum and dad.
Dad answered the phone.
"My book is published."
"Well, that is just fantastic. Congratulations. We'll have to buy a copy. How much does it retail for?"
I told him.
[Long pause]. "Can I borrow your copy?"
Best seller or not, I learned some things about mums who have a disability. I think I learned a bunch of things about mums generally. As mothers, we see ourselves as the centre of our child's support network. We fundamentally believe that no one can provide care for our children as well as we can.
That's why (at times!) it can be so hard to leave your children with someone else. It's why we get defensive when other people suggest ways we could do a better job of caring for our own kids.
At the extremes: if we, or someone else, decide we can no longer look after our children at all, where does that leave us? The work I published after this book attempted to answer that question: it leaves mums grief stricken. But not always in disagreement: sometimes there are reasons why mums can't look after their own children. But when a mum is told she can't be the centre of her child's support network, it hurts.
Being mum is a job trickier and more rewarding than we ever thought possible. And we, like you, think mums deserve looking after. Mums are worth it.
If you'd like a good read (and you have a very good job), you can purchase a copy of the book here.
Or, you can borrow mine.