The story of how the #femedtech quilt made me confront my anxiety around sewing is shared in part here on my blog. I say in part because being a very small part of this brilliant collaborative enterprise has been instrumental in causing me to reflect more deeply about many of my childhood memories and also to connect and read the stories of others.

I realise that my mother is an amazing person. I guess many would say the same. Yet it has taken some time for me to realise this. I did not have such a positive outlook in my teenage years or even through much of adulthood.  She was a strong woman with a very different outlook on life to my own. Mum and I didn’t have the best of relationships for many years. She was closer to my brother (in my view) and I was closer to my Dad. Dad died suddenly of cancer in 2004. I was devastated, I found it hard to visit my mother in our family home. I only recently realised that I had grieved for my Dad and could move on.

In the last 5 years or so as my mother became elderly (she’s now 88 years old) and increasingly relied on me to help her shop and remain independent in her home I have started to appreciate her as an individual who has had to come through lots in life.

Raised by her paternal grandparents when her mother had a stroke in childbirth, she never really knew her own mum. She told me that she was sometimes taken as a small child to see her mum who was bedridden and died a few years after Mum’s birth. She says this was a scary experience.

School was not a great experience for my mother. She liked to talk – resulting in having to stand in the corner with mustard on her tongue! She once told me that a teacher had once announced a trip to the seaside but said you need to get permission from your mother in order to go. Mum didn’t go, in her child’s mind she knew she couldn’t ask her mum. She left school as soon as she could and started working as an apprentice hairdresser. She would bring money to her by then very poverty stricken grandparents. Her father was rarely seen, he remarried and did not support her.

She must have had a profound need to succeed, she was the driving force behind the building of successive businesses, the final one being many miles from where she was born. The business they created in Warwickshire together in the late 50’s was to be where they raised their family. I was the result of a very traumatic birth perhaps influenced by mum’s knowledge of her own mother’s experience. There may have been some bonding issues as I know my dad was largely responsible for my care in the early months. Mum was very determined both her children would have a good education, it was surprisingly important to her given her own rather poor experiences. She pushed to ensure that the business brought in enough to secure our future. She ruled with a rod of iron and she worked all hours.

In her old age she is much gentler, she thanks me often and offers praise even when none is due. I can accept now that I am a mother myself that as parents we try to be the best we can but we make it all up as we go along. We will get things wrong, our priorities are sometimes skewed, our judgements sometimes clouded. We need the help of others. We are all as individual as the many buttons but there are forces that act between us all which help to shape our experiences and over time we can re-imagine and re-understand.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Shared by: @warwicklanguage
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