When William was this wriggly unknown thing inside my stomach, I dissected the role of ‘mother’ very seriously. Perhaps I put myself on a pedestal, but I wanted to be so much to this little person inside my swollen belly.
I wanted to be the mother that sang her baby to sleep, whose voice would soothe him like no other. I wanted to make him home-cooked meals, bake with him, teach him about flavours and teach him to say tough vegetables like ‘asparagus’ or ‘aubergine’, just because his attempts would make me laugh. I wanted to make him proud, so that when he went to school to talk about what his parents did he would talk of me and smile. “My mummy is a WRITER,” he’d say.
I wanted to be able to say yes to every school trip, with money no object. I wanted to know how to make things better, to give the best kisses, hugs and advice. I wanted to have enough imagination that I was Mary Poppins and Maria from The Sound of Music, rolled into one. I’d make tidying up fun and I’d teach him his Do, Re Mi. I wanted to cherish every single moment of being his mother.
I suppose, I just wanted to be his everything.
And don’t get me wrong, if you asked William to run to someone, in a room full of those he loves, I know he’d run to me every time, no matter how many times you replayed the scenario. But I am not the reason why he’s such a wonderful little boy.
And I’m learning that more and more as time goes on.
From the moment I went back to work, I handed over my son to my mother. And she tried her hardest to fill my shoes, which was difficult in itself as she has dinky feet and I’m a size seven. She was left with an eight-week old baby who was adjusting. This tiny, tiny boy. She fed him my milk, sterilised bottles, changed nappies, rocked him to sleep. She did everything I should have been doing. And she did it brilliantly.
I’m certain she’s the reason why he knows so many words. She reads to him every day. And knows just how to make him laugh. So much so that his big eyes crinkle and dance with happiness.
And my dad. Po, as he’s known to little boys called William. My dad works long hours, so that my mother can afford to look after my son, for nothing at all. My dad who put aside his hard-earned money to part-fund William’s two mornings a week at nursery, just so he could have some friends and meet other little people like him. My dad, who, whenever our doorbell rings, William will run to door, in that way where you worry the momentum will catch-up with him and he’ll fall, and all he will shout is: “Where Po? Oh Po! PO!”
My grandparents – his great grandparents. To give them the opportunity to meet a great grandchild makes my heart sting a little, because they love him so much. To see the wisest people I know, and the most naive and young-at-heart, sat there, together – it’s just beautiful. And my Gramps is single-handedly responsible for my son exclaiming: “oh nooooooo” every time something goes wrong. It doesn’t half make me chuckle.
I could write forever about the people who make a difference to my life and my son’s. Whether they take William to eat Victoria sponge cake and talk to him about feeling ‘happy’. Or if they huddle around a giant box of Cheerios, taking turns at eating them out of the packet and making a mess. Or even if they just ask after William, or keep me sane when he goes to bed and the nights become long and lonely.
You see, now, my family unit has changed. I rely on these people to get me through the week. They have become my other halves in a way. And I need them as much as William does. They held my hand as I grew up. And they made me who I am. And they are here again, helping me to raise my son, like a pack of wolves.
And I know that, when it comes to William’s father, the same can be said of him. It’s very tough to raise a child on your own.
These people in my life remind me that I don’t have to do this on my own. And that, while I’m not his everything, I’m his mother. And that role gives me the right to feel proud of my little pup, my little wolf pup, raised by his pack.
And all the better for it.