My mother came to London to help me when I had my baby. She arrived a few days before I was due and for a short time we were able to enjoy uninterrupted high tea and take tourist snaps around the city. I was fat and happy. My mother was beyond excited. She was about to meet her first grandchild.
I never thought having a baby would change my relationship with my mother. I didn’t see any of it coming. I’ve always loved my mum but there have been some dark times when we haven’t been on the same page.
After a shock teen pregnancy, I thought that we kind of grew up together. We joked that she was Eddie in Absolutely Fabulous (although she doesn’t drink). She was the fun dramatic one and I was Saffron, the bossy responsible one.
My mother with my newborn son. (Post continues after video).
My mother was there in time for my labour – 27 hours of it. She’s had five children so she had plenty of experience to help guide me through the marathon. In all of her pit-stop pep talks she was able to pull me into “the now”. She transformed into a Zen-like birthing guru, she was a sound and tested religion, she knew all, and was the calmest most enlightened being I had ever met.
My partner and I would have been so scared without her, we would have been so lost. It was her experience I trusted. From the moment I started labour, my mother just did everything right.
What’s confusing is that my mother isn’t normally a calm person. Her idea of relaxing is some kind of activity – like large abstract painting. Most days she loses her keys and you can tell because she’ll make the sound you make when you see a car accident – a massive gasp. I always think something serious has happened. I fall for it every time.
So with Mum, it’s high-drama with toffee-making fails for the school fete but she’s actually excellent in a crisis.
My mother, Jenny, with my son. Image supplied.
So 27 hours in, and a few minutes away from my baby being born, my mother stood back and let my partner and I meet our son. He was silent when he was born. He locked eyes with me and my world disappeared. It was really quiet apart from the sobs of happy tears we were all shedding.
My mother doula was everything I needed to get through those daunting hours of labour.
It was only after I became a mother that I was able to see my mother through new eyes. She had given me so much. I had been so hard on her. I had focused on her weaknesses and not her strengths. In my mind, I could suddenly see my teen mum with me. I could see her love and strength and the commitment she had made to mothering at only 17-years-old. Having a baby has made me feel so much closer to my mum. It has made me appreciate her so much more.
The three of us in Holland Park. Image supplied.
After a few amazing weeks of enjoying this new baby boy, my mother was due to leave for Sydney. I didn't know what I would do without her. She had helped me become a mother.
Then, there was the heart-stopping moment that I never get used to. Hours before she was about to board a plane and she said:
"Shhiiit! I've lost my bag. My passport's in there. Shit shit shit," she yelled in a crowded shopping centre in central London.
By some kind of miracle we found it - although I was hoping she'd have to stay. She was going a long way away from me but I felt so close to her.
"You know how much I love you now. I love you as much as you love your son," she said.
I understood, it is boundless.