How having a baby has made me rethink the way I treated my mum growing up…
The other night, as I carried Raff into his bedroom, calmly cooing that it was bedtime – he head-butted me. At first, I thought it was an accident, and then he looked me straight in the eye and did it again. To add insult to injury he cracked up laughing. Shocked that my dear, sweet, apple of my eye had attacked me, I didn’t even have the words to tell him off so I put him down to sleep and left the room trying to work out what the hell just happened. Confused, I consulted good ole Dr Google and found mums from around the world lamenting that their 1-year-old was hitting, slapping and even biting them with those razor-sharp baby teeth (talk about biting the hand the feeds you!) Apparently it’s common, and your baby’s way of telling you something they’re feeling. God knows how you’re supposed to work that out when they can barely string two words together! But after getting over the initial shock that the baby that I’ve spent night and day with and treated like a king tried to attack me, I realised that taking parents for granted isn’t anything new.
As kids my sister and I would moan when we had to unload the dishwasher, and whinge when we had to hang the washing out (if all I had to do now was occasionally put some plates away I’d think I was living on Easy Street!) The older we got, the more responsibility we took on and eventually were forced to realise that mum wasn’t at our beck and call and, further, she wasn’t our slave. But even in our teens we were stealing her sleep – craftily trying to extend our curfew by an hour or so. No matter what time we got home, mum would always be awake, just waiting. I don’t think she ever put herself before us. And even though we adored her, sometimes we treated her like shit, threw it all back in her face, and were right little bitches.
Needless to say, ever since I had Raff I’ve had a newfound respect for my mum (all mums, actually) and all she does for me. Growing up my mum fed me, looked after me, kept me safe. But she did so much more for my sister and I; she loved us, baked with us and on the days when we thought the sky was falling she’d tell us it was all going to be okay. Thirty odd years later, she still does. And I’m ashamed to say it’s taken me almost that long to realise how under appreciated she was when I was growing up. I know Raff wasn’t head-butting me because he wanted to hurt me (Google told me that!) but it still felt like a real slap in the face. A feeling all mums, sometime or another, probably know all too well.
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