The hidden stories

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.

Lisa X

All things fibre

I would like to know at what point during my transition from women with no children, to mother of two, did my interest in bowel habits start, but more importantly when will it end.

When the kids are small the mid wife, the doctor and my mum were all interested in how many dirty nappies. The barrage of questions I faced about stools, consistency and constipation was constant. I had never thought about poo so much and quite frankly I didn’t want or need to. But it takes hold so quickly, this interest in all things bowel.

When I was changing nappies I would note the colour for any changes that could indicate an underlying illness. I didn’t know what underlying illness this would be, but I was vigilant. I have never worn the colour mustard because of this process.

A rogue tummy pain would have me wondering, “when was her last poo?” I may or may not have kept a chart when they were babies, plotting the days and frequency of poo.  Where was the poo emoji in 1995 when I really needed it?

Any time my children have told me they feel sick, their tummy doesn’t feel right or any ailment really, my first response is, “Are you pooing regularly?” They roll their eyes and say yes but I normally need more detail than this. When was your last poo, is it soft enough, you’re not straining are you?

Someone make me stop!

As the girls have aged I have extended my vocab to add “Are you drinking enough water?” Of course known for it’s stool softening abilities.

I knew my line of question was reaching saturation point when I was banned from using the words fibre, bowel habits, stools and poo whenever any of their friends were over.

Side note -I had already been banned from using the words nipples, perineum, vulva and areola. 

So here’s my dilemma…….

Have my need to know privileges about all things bowel related with my children expired?

Just to clarify, they are 20 and 18!

Yes I still ask.

I sprook the  benefits of fibre whenever I get the chance. I ask about water consumption. I disguise it now as a hydration question but we all know the truth.

The benefits of waste elimination and toxins within the body are discussed, well I guess a discussion would indicate more than one person talking about the subject. So I give a monologue to anyone within earshot really.

Now that the girls are home less I find my attention turning to my poor husband. I added fibre powder to a meal just incase he wasn’t getting enough.  A solemn vow has been made never to do this again when he came home from work convinced he had a gastro bug. I was extremely sympathetic and a wonderful nurse.

Where is the off switch to mothering? I can’t just stop wanting (needing) to know that my children are healthy and taking care of themselves. I guess I now need to trust that all of the information I have given them over the years will serve them well.

And of course not forgetting the numerous songs in which I exchanged the word blue for poo. Immature I know but I read that subliminal messaging is a very powerful tool.

Lisa xx