I just wanted to get this down, because, it’s a memory that counts.
I was tucking Bill up in bed on Sunday night, Bill. It was warm, and it was late. We’d been to visit Mark’s family in Preston. And we’d gotten back way past bedtime. I’d tucked Bill up in bed in a rush, because, well, it was late, I was panicked, I had things to do and I really wanted an early night.
So I gave him a quick kiss and a cuddle and I closed the door. And I did the usual thing of dashing around before bedtime, preparing for the week ahead.
Eventually, I climbed the stairs and stood, facing his door. A white door, in need of repainting, with a little Peter Rabbit plaque that spelled out: “William’s Room.”
It hadn’t been long. But I always check him again before I go to bed, to make sure my world hadn’t been snatched from me as he slept, and even though 15 minutes had passed quickly, I couldn’t resist a peek.
I opened the squeaky door, and I peered round, expecting to see a rosy-cheeked little boy with a flushed complexion and a sweaty brow. And instead, I saw this little boy, one arm around his teddy, clutching his covers, nightlight on, and he just beamed.
“Oh hi Mama! Mama? Can I have a hug?”
I walked over and grinned. I could tell that he was so very pleased to see me. He smiled his biggest smile and his eyes seemed to smile at me too – they just lit-up. He pulled me towards him, arms tight around my neck and he said, simply:
“I missed you Mama.”
And I pulled back and kissed your nose. And I replied: “But I’m right here baby boy.”
“But I missed you.”
“I missed you too baby.”
“I missed you Mama. And I love you.”
“I love you too.”
And then, quietly, he looked up at me, eyes shining, full of love, the look of love that you don’t get from anyone else.
“You’re my mummy.”
And I pulled him into a tight hug, as my eyes welled-up, and my throat grew a lump that made it hard for me to do anything but breathe in deep breaths.
My little boy has always called me Mama. From the very first instance, trying to sound out the letter ‘M’ in his mouth, trying to form a word. A word that became my name.
He knows my name is Charlotte. But I am known as Mama.
And while that’s a name any woman would be proud of, it was nice to hear him say ‘Mummy’. I am a mother who feels like she has to wait in line to play the role she wants to play sometimes.
I share my place as an important woman in Bill’s life with my own mother, and a person I have only met once.
I feel like there is a lot I want to do for him. I want him to know how much he is loved. But by me. I love him more than I could ever get across through words, and words are a familiar territory for me.
I don’t think I get things right. I try. I really do. But I can’t seem to do everything all the time. I don’t want to mow my overgrown lawn and be house proud, because I’d rather be with my son and talk to him. Sometimes I forget his nursery bag, but it’s only because I have been concentrating too hard on the brief moment I get with him,, talking to him, and being patient, before I drop him off in someone else’s care.
It’s a challenge sometimes. To be this way. At least it is for me. It’s not about a grass-is-greener approach, or that I’d feel differently if I had to stay at home with him each day. It’s a ‘me’ approach. It’s a personal battle all my own.
So in that moment, when he told me who I was, I realised that I don’t quite have to justify myself. I am his mummy.
It was all that certification I needed.