You were the mother that my mother never was; strong, maternal and kind. When my mum left in the middle of the night, without saying a word, my dad did his best to pick up the pieces but he was struggling on his own. I was two years old, how could my dad tell me that the woman who had given birth to me, who spent her pregnancy dreaming of her ‘perfect baby girl’ was gone and didn’t even have the courage to say goodbye? She was 19 when she had me and 21 when she left and over-time I learnt she had started a new family with a man who treated her like the princess that she so wanted to be. She was never coming home again and as harsh as it sounds I had to wake up to the reality of a one-parent household. Still it wasn’t so bad, in the two years that had passed after my mums abrupt departure, the bond between a father and his daughter deepened and it was during those warm, hazy days that I truly felt loved. Eventually at the age of 4, my dad hired a childminder named J, who was you, my future foster mother.
I remember sitting on the step, waiting for you to come and open the door. You scooped me into your arms and looked at me with your warm brown eyes, reassuring me that everything was going to be ok. In that one look I saw my future, a happier childhood where I could be loved and made to feel special. I was your special little girl and when I was taken into care by you at the age of 10, the first words that you spoke were ‘ Ana, you used to ask me if I could be your mummy’ and now your dream has come true. My eyes filled with tears, you only childminded me for two years but in those two years you helped create happy memories that were a salve for my broken heart. Except my heart was about to get broken again; after spending four years as a single parent, my dad met someone new, a woman called E. I knew from the start that there was something off about E and her hatred towards me was undisguised. She claimed she was sweet at first but that all changed when she moved in. I was physically and emotionally abused and my dad did nothing to stop her because he was powerless too. I was hit, slapped, punched, kicked but it was the words that hurt the most. Because of E I became mistrusting, no longer that sunny personality that everyone had fallen in love with. I was cynical, sarcastic and defensive but I was still a little girl, who had been robbed of her childhood.
They say that it is never too late to ‘play at being a kid’ and the saying rings true. After enduring horrific abuse and neglect, I was finally taken into care aged 10. You brought me jelly sweets in a tube and gifted me with a mug, presents which you said were to welcome me into your family, because I was a part of it now. I believe that we both thought my stay was going to be temporary, after all most kids get sent back home after a ‘short stay’ but I was the one that never left. About four months into my stay in care, I was supervised as usual on a visit to my dad’s house, where E was acting a little strange. Usually she would keep up pretenses and coerced social services into believing that I was just a ‘kid with an over-active imagination’ but this time they saw the abuse for themselves and if they hadn’t have been there, I would have been beaten black and blue. From that moment on E was not allowed to see me and for a few short months my dad would come to see me in my foster home, until one day he stopped coming at all. I grew withdrawn at the thought of yet another parent abandoning me but I never realized what I had in front of me, which was you, my foster mother.
You held my hand and told me you would always be there but I resented your maternal presence at first. I loved you but I didn’t know how to cope with love, I told porky pies and did things to get attention, often things that make me ashamed to write down. We all make mistakes but never once did you stop loving me. I wasn’t a bad kid but I was a problem child, I was bullied, cut classes and at one point shoplifted , because it was the one thing that I had control over. When you told me off or was angry with me I used to cry and get emotional because I always associated ‘negative actions’ with the abuse I faced as a child and the bullying that I was going through as a teen. I didn’t realize that you told me off because you cared about me and that me ‘seeing you as strict’ was actually your way of being the best mother to me that you could be. We never had a steady relationship growing up and I often saw you as too strict and not empathetic enough but now as an adult I realize that I was wrong. I realize that you ‘weren’t trying to replace my mother’ nor were you trying to mollycoddle me because of the bad things I had faced in the past. Instead you showed me how to be an independent woman, equipped with the basic life skills to adapt to real life.
You took me on caravan holidays and showered me with presents and love and despite the ups and downs, there is always more ups than downs. I used to fixate on the negative events that we went through together when I should have appreciated how much you had done for me instead. You took me into your stable home and made me part of your family, you didn’t have to do that but you did, because you are an amazing woman. You enrolled me in stage school, which you paid for out of your own pocket and praised my talent for theatre and linguistics. You showed me who I should be as a person and encouraged me to apply for university because and I quote ‘had the brains to prove every hater wrong’. We both made mistakes and did things that neither of us are proud of but it was moving away from home, aged 17 that made me realize how remarkable you really were. You are a role model, a selfless woman who puts others before her own needs and a woman who dedicated her life to helping children from broken homes. I wasn’t the first and I certainly wasn’t the last but what you did for me quite literally changed my life.
I am sorry that I was such a bitch at times but I think I was testing you, to see if you would abandon me like everyone else did. But you never gave up, not once. I am sorry that I made you cry, that I tested your patience and made you go insane. But I am thankful that our bond is stronger than ever, that as an adult I realized how much I owed to you to get to the place that I am today. And for all those reasons alone, it is you and not my real mother that I wish Happy Mothers Day to because I might not call you mum, but alongside my Aunty, you are the closest thing to a mum I could get,
Always and forever,
Who Would You Wish A Happy Mother’s Day To?
Shop The Post