When you become a Mum not only do you get this little reliant human, you also pick up a party bag of endless and interchangeable worry, guilt and happiness.
When you are a single Mum and you know that absolutely everything depends entirely on you, you can supersize that goody bag and ramp up the worry, guilt and happiness accordingly.
I’ve talked about it a bit before (here) and being a lifelong worrier I probably fret more than most but I’m trying really hard to get better. Each parenting stage comes with its own challenges. I realise the one you’re currently living in is always the toughest, but this teenage bit is quite a minefield. I fear I might be heading off the fretful chart.
I really don’t want to tell you that I drove around like a lunatic looking for him when he was late home the other night. But I’m going to, because it’s true.
It was dark and he was out on his bike (Did he remember his lights?) not answering his phone (Is he dead in a ditch?) and not with his group of friends who had passed me earlier (Was he now hanging around with a new bunch of murderous drug dealing bad kids?)
I’m pretty stressy anyway but on this particular evening I went from zero to requiring light sedation fairly swiftly. Add another half an hour, he’s still not home and I’m in total IMM (Irrational Mum Mode)
In an alternate world where I have a loving, supportive co-parent I might have offloaded some of these IMM worries and been gently reassured. “He’s probably cycling home right now and that’s why he can’t answer your calls…..Perhaps his phone battery died…..Give him another five minutes you beautiful crazy woman…..Shall I take over making dinner?” is how I would imagine the conversation might go, followed by a soft kiss on the forehead and a cheeky bum tweak (shut up, it’s my alternate world)
In the real world however I’m switching off the oven (safety first) and grabbing my car keys.
I’m not sure what I was looking for other than trouble or blue lights but in just under ten minutes of driving around his usual hangouts a “Where are you Mum?” text hits my inbox and I hit the roof.
WHERE AM I?! WHERE AM I?!
Where are YOU?!!!
Of course he’s back at home, bike put back in the garage, like NOTHING is wrong in the world and I’m a banshee frantically searching for an imaginary disaster.
Where am I? Great question. I think it’s most commonly referred to as The Edge.
And when I got home from disaster-hunting and eventually found out the reason for his lateness, the shame nearly tipped me right over it.
One of his best mates has a broken foot and is on crutches. Instead of leaving him behind – like the others – my boy got off his bike and walked home with him. It took ages which made him late but he made sure his mate got home ok.
I’d gone bananas and he’d been the kindest and loveliest friend to broken foot boy.
Relieved that he was safe, happy that his kindness hasn’t diminished in teenagerhood and proud that my boy is a really good mate.
BUT YOU STILL SHOULD HAVE ANSWERED YOUR PHONE.
C’mon he was still late, whatever the lovely reason. I’m not going to let that go. With the cool slab of Apple’s finest technology in his skinny jeans pocket he should have let me know what was happening. (He got his confiscated phone back from me 24 hours later)
Staring at the ceiling in bed later that night, I had to question my actions and be really honest with myself. Did I massively over-react? Yup. Am I nuts or just a worried Mum? Both. Do I need help or is this just life? I’m honestly not sure and 3am internet searching didn’t provide a definitive conclusion either.
When he asked me “Why are you so afraid of everything?” I didn’t have an answer but I know I didn’t want to be.
I don’t want to be afraid but I guess that worry is just part of this job you accept on the day you bring another person into the world. I must’ve overlooked that bit in the Terms and Conditions and skipped straight to “beaming with pride on Parents Evening” before signing.
I hope my son knows that I never want to stop him having fun. I hope he knows I trust him to make good choices and be the brilliant human he is. I hope he knows that a big bit of my fear is because I love him so much. I hope he knows that he is the most precious thing in my whole world and I can’t help wanting to keep him safe.
Also, I hope he knows that the mobile phone I pay an extortionate amount for each month also functions as a communication device and when it rings YOU ANSWER IT.
I hope he knows that I want him to live the most fulfilling, joyous and fear-free life he possibly can. I realise I have to set the example. Fear, worry and anxiety are so debilitating.
Is this mental illness or motherhood? Both? I honestly don’t know. All I know is that if you do it alone it’s bloody hard sometimes.
But it’s bloody worth it too.
Happy Mother’s Day x