Last night I took my Mum out for her delayed Mother’s day gift.
We went and saw a show by an Australian performer named Todd McKenny (google him, he is fantastic). He was performing the songs of the legendary Peter Allen.
Peter Allen had always been a favourite of my mum’s. We grew up listening to his albums. We knew on cleaning day that we would put it on, loud, while we cleaned the entire house. Mum would dance with the vacuum cleaner and sing at the top of her lungs.
As the cleaning came to an end we would all meet in the lounge room to belt out, “I still call Australia home”, as the house sparkled around us.
Mum had met Peter Allen when he was touring Australia and he stayed in a motel that she and dad were managing in Tasmania. She saw his concert numerous times and says he was a lovely man. It’s her dinner party story.
I decided to get tickets for mum because I knew she would love it and I though it would be a bit of fun.
What I didn’t know at the time of purchase was that this night out would prove to be an enlightening evening for me.
I had a profound moment of seeing my mother as a woman, a young mother and someone who, just maybe had things in her life that still haunted her.
I picked mum up early in the afternoon and we made our way into the city. We walked the alley ways and window shopped around the city. No time limits or deadlines. Just walking and chatting. Luxury in our busy lives.
We had an early dinner at the casino where the show was being held. Mum felt a bit naughty having a drink in the bar and then having a flutter of the pokie machines. All before 6pm!
The show began and Todd was really entertaining. At times I forgot that he was not in fact Peter Allen. We were having a wonderful time and mum was singing up a storm.
The first half was coming to a close, when the house lights dropped and a slow song started. I didn’t know what the song was at first, but mum did.
I heard a sound that I’ve never heard before. It was low pitched . It seemed to escape her without her even noticing.
It sounded a little like pain.
As I watched out the corner of my eye I saw her wipe away a tear.
She looked far away and not aware of me beside her.
Although I was sitting next to my sixty something mother, I saw a young women who was remembering experiences that made her sad and had caused her pain at some stage in her life.
The song was released in 1976.
My mum would’ve been a young mother, with a three and four year old. Living the nomadic life of a navy wife, with a husband who was absent for long periods of time.
I connect with her fear, her uncertainty, her struggle to be strong when, maybe she didn’t want to. I connect because I have experienced this too.
I imagine the hopes and dreams she may have had for herself but had never seen them come to fruition.
What did she want to be when she grew up?
How did she imagine her life being when she got older?
I don’t know because I’ve never asked. I’ve spoken about it with my girlfriends, co-workers and strangers. But I’ve never asked my mum.
I realised in that moment that I, like my children, had assumed that my mum’s life began with motherhood.
She became a mum and all that had happened before no longer existed.
Her heartbreaks no longer hurt, her dreams no longer mattered and her image of herself needed to change. How self centred we children are.
My mum is not one to dwell on regrets and her glass is always half full, but don’t we all have those moments? Those sliding door situations, that make us wonder, what if?
I have always respected my mum, the wonderful job she did raising us and the adoring Nana she is. Now I truly connect with her woman to woman.
We have outgrown the parent/child relationship and we are now two women who have similar life experiences and we say connected because we want to.
I never asked her what was it about the song that hit a nerve, because that’s her story. If she wants to share I’m ready to listen. I took her hand and squeezed it. I’m here.
The song ended, she took a deep breath, turned to me and smiled.
I felt honoured to receive that smile, because on some level it was like she was putting her memories away and focussing on her reality. She didn’t look disappointed that her reality was me.
See below if you would like to have a listen to a beautiful song.