Things You Don’t Tell Your Mother

There are certain things you don’t tell your mother.

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Keeping me at arm’s length with a broccoli floret

Like how, when you were seventeen, you crashed her car into the gatepost while she was away in France and had it fixed out of your savings before she came back.

Or owning up to the true extent of what you got up to at University, and how little of it involved academic study.

Even now, close as we are, there are things I don’t tell my Mother. Partly to save her brow from further angst-incurred furrowing, but also because I have good friends and a counsellor with whom I ‘talk out’ my fruitier escapades.

Of course, when it comes to my own daughter, I like to think she does, and will, tell me everything.

Being five-years-old, this currently involves information about her latest bowel evacuation and news that she doesn’t like broccoli, (although she did tell me the Great Fire of London was in 1666 the other day, which really was news to me).

One thing she doesn’t discuss with me though, or even mention much these days, is Daddy. And I don’t push it, because I might cry and not stop, and she might end up as she usually does, wiping my tears and telling me everything will be OK.

I hadn’t thought much about this until I dropped her off at school this morning and her teacher asked for a ‘quiet word’.

Seems she’s been mentioning Him a lot at school. In the dinner hall. In assembly. She’s confided in staff that she’s sad that her daddy is dead and that she misses Him. She has sought comfort in the arms of teachers and dinner ladies.

I spent the rest of the morning ulcerating about this particular conversation starter. Arguably the most important and interesting of conversation starters for us to elaborate on, yet she keeps me at arm’s length with a broccoli floret.

She witnessed His death. She continues to witness the fall-out from His death. So why hasn’t she sought comfort from me?

Perhaps she’s trying to save my brow from further furrowing too.

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15 thoughts on “Things You Don’t Tell Your Mother

  1. I’m a new subscriber. I think your blog is terrific (and I speak as a mere emotionally illiterate man). If you’d ever like to do some writing for the Independen on Sunday, please do let me know. With good wishes,
    James Hanning,
    Deputy editor

  2. I was going to comment and say ‘don’t beat yourself up’ and offer some vague comfort (which would probably seem like platitudes) but tbh I’m not sure what to say. I don’t have kids and can’t imagine the pain and comfort having them must bring during this horrible time. So, I’ll shut up and just send you much love xx
    (I hope you do take up the writing offer tho- you’d be great)

  3. I’m new to your blog & this is literally the first one I’ve read & I just burst out laughing, weird as that sound. This is exactly what my 8 year old daughter does to me. She pats me on the shoulder as she coo’s “there there mummy, you’ll feel better after you’ve cried” whilst not showing any inclination to cry herself, then I get calls from the school telling me she’s been crying in class again. I laughed not because it’s funny, but because I just thought, yes, we’re normal! Maybe only in this place of widowhood that was forced upon us, but still, “normal” none the less. Thank you x

    • Hi Dee! Thanks so much for reading and for commenting. Oddly enough your message has had the same effect on me – thank Christ someone else’s child is exhibiting this behaviour and it’s not just mine! Seeking ‘normality’ in a situation which is so far from normal is what we’re all clearly doing, so it’s reassuring to hear I’m normal. Kind of. Thank YOU! X

  4. Perhaps she a wee little “old soul” and it’s not her first time down the road or her love is so selfless and entire that she wants to protect you from any more sorrow. Children are wonderfully giving. If you give them love, they will give it back in spades

    • Hi Lori. I do think she’s protecting me actually. And I think the whole horror of this situation has given her an odd ‘wisdom’ beyond her years. Having said that, she was eating soil the other day. Not sure where the wisdom is in that…;) XX

  5. maybe your little girl IS trying to protect you, but I know it must be hard for you to know she hasn’t been able to share her grief with you. perhaps at one point, you will be able to convey to her that hearing her talk about her daddy is a comfort to you, and that though sharing feelings and emotions and memories can make us cry, they can also mean not feeling so alone for both of you. and that we cry to let out the sad feelings, so the good ones can stay safe in our hearts. children can be so altruistic at such a young age, and can also understand that we cry because we love daddy and miss him. I made a pact with my 11 year old grandson, as he came through our front door for the first time after his papa died. we were both sobbing and holding tight onto each other – I told him we would be each other’s hugger, and that when one or the other or both of us felt like crying, we would hug onto each other and cry all we needed to. we are each our safe place to land now, and there has been a lot of hugging and crying. brian is feeling better, knowing that, and seems to be progressing from not being afraid to talk about papa, because he knows it comforts us both. and I am not crying as much as I did in the beginning (in front of brian at least), but love that we can hold each other tight, and then proceed to talking about what he needs to let out about his feelings. I hope even a little of this helps, and i send you and your little girl…

    much love and light,

    Karen, XOXOXOXOX

  6. It’s three months since my wife died, she was 49 and the love of my life. My son is 23. [not ours] he never speaks about her, or asks a question. i think it is because she isn’t here. if she was here he’d ask me how she is. he is not going to ask me how she isn’t. her absence is a constant presence to me but a recollection for him. i think he talks about it to his friends because it is part of their conversation. our conversation takes place in a different space. she is there but invisible or perhaps just hidden.

    • Hi Paul, thank you for reading and the comment. I’m so sorry for your loss. Three months is still very early (although I HATE people saying that to me, and I’m at 19 months. Feels like a platitude). I wonder how you’re doing? Do you have people to talk to about her? That is interesting that at 23 your son doesn’t talk about it at all. I wonder if he too is frightened of upsetting you. Or maybe it’s just something two fellas don’t do? It strikes me that during your conversations she is not invisible, but hidden, as you say. She may reveal herself as time goes on. Sending you strength. X

  7. Me Again, 16 year old son NEVER mentions Steve, his stepdad from age eight, i decided early on that i would leave him to deal with it in his own way but told him i was here if he needed me…. 5 year old talks all the time about daddy, i don’t cry so i guess that makes a difference, she remembers lots of things as well so she will say “Oh we last came here when i was three with Daddy”, and i’ll be erm yes but i thik you were four actually…… and off we go talking about what daddy did…. xxxxx

  8. Things you don’t tell your father. My 38 yrs old wife passed away 7 months ago. My daughter is 5 yrs and 4 months now. When I knew that the end was near I talked to my daughter and said to her, that mummy is very sick and it doesn’t look like she is going to get better and she is in a lot of pain, so maybe would be good to let her go to the angels. She said, yes I think we should let mummy go, :). That morning I sent her to school staying with my wife alone at home. After school she run into the house, shouting ‘Daddy did mummy go to Heaven ? ‘ I said ‘No’. ‘That’s good , cause I made a picture for her’. I said ‘Great. Let’s go and give it to her’. We did it, and give my wife big hug.
    She passed away in the middle of that night. I wanted to save my daughter that sight. In the morning, I made her breakfast and told her. ‘Listen, mummy went to Heaven last night’ . I was really struggling to keep my eyes dry and expected her pair of eyes to get watery ! :), ‘Oh, let’s go and see if she took my picture with her’. 🙂 That was her reaction ! I said , we will do that when you will be back.’ ‘Ok, daddy’ !
    Can you believe it ? I can now. Still puts the smile on my face.
    Now, 7 months on, a shit hit the fan. She really misses her. She cried to me last night . ‘ Daddy I wish mommy would die when I am a granny and so she would be around now when I am a child’ .
    Leaving in a foreign country and not having any family around is not helping. My wife is now resting in our home town and not to be able to visit her grave is not easy either.
    Well, I got it off my chest, LOL. Great talking to myself again. Good luck to everyone on that rough journey. Back to work !

    • Glad you got it off your chest – feel free to do it any time. So sorry your little one is struggling. It is so tough dealing with your own grief, never mind seeing their pain. Sending you strength for the road ahead. X

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