No-one is perfect. We all know that, although many of us – myself included – fall into the trap of idealising others and seeing perfection where it does not exist. We all have flaws and quirks that make us amazing, unique humans and I am learning (note: I’m still learning, I haven’t got there yet!) to love and celebrate the good, the bad and the ugly in both myself and others.
As grieving young adults, there is one person we do idealise, and it’s not always healthy to do so. That person is the loved one we have lost. I am often tempted to make my mum sound even more amazing, loving, hilarious or confident than she was. Don’t get me wrong, my mum was my best friend and the most brilliant mum I could have hoped for. But the reality is, like everyone, mum had her flaws.
My mum was beautiful, but she wasn’t self-confident. Mum was kind, but she had a wicked temper. Mum, like all of us, was tired, grumpy, and angry at times. I loved going shopping with her but I hated driving with her in the car – she was such a backseat driver! I knew never to push it with mum – she was in charge and talking back to her would not end well. I resented house cleaning days – she always made hoover, even though she knew I hated that chore.
When people ask me about mum, of course I share happy memories. Those times of joy that I will treasure forever. But I think it is really important to note that just because someone is gone from this Earth doesn’t mean we can’t remember them authentically. I want to remember all of mum, not just her best side. I want to continue to get to know her as a woman, as a wife, as a mother – and to do that I need to protect all of my memories of her.
The good times and the bad
I can smile now about the time I broke my toe, and after weeks of limping she decided her patience with me had run out, and she shouted at me so angrily to walk properly that the limping disappeared overnight and the pain in my toe suddenly wasn’t important anymore. My brother remembers his favourite Action Man toy being thrown to an early death from the top of the stairs as mum finally lost her temper with three kids winding each other up (RIP action man, we miss you still).
That was my mum. She wasn’t perfect but she was perfect to us. She had flaws and quirks that meant she annoyed me a lot, but the love we shared was pure, endless, full of forgiveness and grace. These days, without mum to phone and ask for advice, I still know what she would say. I can hear her pride and her concern. I can still hear the annoyance in her voice when I had done something stupid. I know she would be angry when me and my siblings bicker and fight. She is still here, still present and still flawed.
Loving mum endlessly
If you have lost someone close to you, take a moment to remember who they really are. Love knows no bounds and judges none. Remember their weaknesses, the things that irritated you about them, the times you fought and then were reconciled. For these are the things that you may erase from your memory and lose forever if you only remember the positives. Remember them for who they really were and you will keep a fuller, richer, more real version of them with you always.
And mum – thanks for making me pose for that photo with you on the first day of university. I was so ashamed, I couldn’t believe you were making me take a photo with you, my mum! How wrong I was, I laugh now at the embarrassment I felt, and the way you mocked me for my futile attempts to be too cool for my parents. For that photo is now one of my most treasured memories and it reminds me of who you really were – my embarrassing, annoying, wise, beloved mum.
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