Wars, Mothers + School tests
Sunday 12th November 2017 @ 8:49 am
My friend Kate wrote the words below, and they are worth a few minutes of your time.
It seems mildly serendipitous that I first read them on Remembrance Sunday – a day that always massages my emotions, pulling them in different directions.
I have the deepest admiration for those who have laid their lives down for their country – and I have deeper anxieties about a country that would ask them to. I have an overwhelming sense of respect for those who fight for anything of behalf of anyone else – and an overwhelming sense of sadness that humanity is broken enough to require this. And on the island I live on, I am hugely aware that ‘remembering’ of these sacrifices is carried out on different days, in different ways, honouring different things. Such is our complex narrative, that Irishmen who fought alongside Ulstermen in WW2 have had their sacrifice deliberately ignored. Nevermind the vortex that one enters when beginning to remember more modern violence on this island, and questions arise of who should get honoured, who are the victims, and how the horrors should be remembered if at all. In the midst of all of this, I simply cannot don a shirt and shoes, and unquestionably remember in a polite church service.
That’s why I am so thankful to Kate for her words. They remind me in the deepest way, that in all questions of war, honouring, violence, remembering and forgetting … there is something I have long suspected might be one of the only fundamentals in all the complexities – the love of a mother.
Here are her words.
“Dan and countless other kids sat their first paper in the post–primary transfer tests in Northern Ireland today.
The overwhelming advice given to parents (by everyone) has been “Don’t worry”. My response to date has been: “Oh I know, he’ll be fine.”
But, are you kidding me????!!! I made this kid! I’m genetically–wired to be concerned about every single element of his well–being.
When Dan was born I was worried that he was too hot or too cold. I worried that he wasn’t breathing when he slept. I worried that I wasn’t feeding him correctly and that he wasn’t feeding enough. I worried that he would get sick and I wouldn’t be able to fix him. I worried about travelling with him in the car in case we had an accident. I worried about going out without him, because I was his mum and I was supposed to be his safe place and I wouldn’t be there if he needed me.
Then, I worried about him crawling, walking, running, bumping into doors, climbing on things that weren’t for climbing on…
Now, I worry when he walks to school in the morning. I worry that I’ve run out of series of books to recommend to him (he won’t read Anne of Green Gables), and we won’t have that in common. I worry that the stuff he watches on TV might mess with his head. I worry that he’ll have my height and Tim’s size 16 feet. I worry that he’ll grow up too fast, and I worry about how much I’m going to miss my sweet boy when he leaves home.
And I know, we’re told not to worry. For those with faith, we know that as much as we love our children, God loves them more. And for that I’m thankful. (I’m still going to worry a bit though.)
But seriously, telling mothers* not to worry about their children is like telling the sun not to rise. My mother did pass on some of her wisdom to me: apparently you worry about your kids a lot in the first forty years, then it gets better. As I’m still 39, I’m not sure I totally trust her judgement.
Anyway, AQE/GL parents: worry a bit, and then have some gin. If you have enough, you may forget why you were worrying in the first place.
*also goes for fathers.”
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