Best foot forward
People are talking to me alot at the moment about mothering and motherhood and the whole ‘being an older mum’ thing.
The long and the short of it for me, is that it is just what I am … I don’t know how different I’d have been as a mother when I was younger, I like to think that now I’m a little bit more grown up I am prepared to find more time for my girl … to me it doesn’t matter if baby led weaning means meal times take over an hour, I love watching the experiments in food, the delight, the mmmmmm mmmm sounds, the resolute disposal of unwanted items (always neatly to the floor on one side of her chair) and the finger test, the slurping sounds … to me it is a blissfully happy time and it hasn’t left me thinking, “hurry up” or “I’d rather be out with friends” … I’m with Hope and that’s where I never dared dream I’d be.
Motherhood has also made me far more aware of my mother, of all she has done for me, all that she put with from me over the years and how very deeply I love her and am grateful to her for her friendship and inspiration. I also have much much more time for her and it is time I really cherish. She was an older mum too … almost 40 when we were born, and when we were younger my brother and I often discussed how it would be to have a younger mother and I think I always thought then I’d have children younger myself … it didn’t happen that way whether I’d wanted to or not.
I was a revolting teenager, and a confused 20 something and I think looking back, was a fairly selfish 30 something especially as regards my relationship with my own mother. Now in my 40s, she is my constant companion and is one of the people I’m happiest around … as I’ve said endlessly, one of the greatest joys in my life has been sitting on the side lines watching or listening to her playing with Hope … she doesn’t just put a toy infront of her, she brings the toy to life … teddy conducts an orchestra of other bears, Hope puts hats on her Granby and her dolls, she is encouraged to share imaginary cups of tea with Mr Sheep and Monkey and they all sing together. I am sure that a huge part of Hope’s generous nature and thirst for learning is due to the time she’s spent with my mother.
The three of us had huge a few evenings ago.
We went to the park and grandmother pushed granddaughter on the swings for the first time, and then we came home and I gave Granby a pedicure while Hope played on her blue and yellow duck blanket beside us and occasionally pulled herself over to peer at what was going on. She played with all the jars of foot scrub (all tightened up to prevent smearing or eating of goo) and then she just turned round and played with her musical cube and read her tractor book and chortled with glee every time she managed to press the brrrrmmmm brrrrmmmm button. My mother and I share the same unattractive hooves … Hope will I’m sure take after her father just as she has with her perfect skin (thanks to her other Granny) but Granby and I have thick skin, horrid toe nails and really fairly ugly feet … I always feel embarrassed when I have a pedicure and find myself apologising constantly to the therapist. As I started scrubbing the dead skin off my mothers toes and rubbing the soothing lotion into her swollen ankles, I did wonder what I’d taken on … but a few minutes in, looking up at her familiar and beautiful face I was overwhelmed by a feeling of utter well being … this was time being properly well spent. Mummy had a sherry and a piece of sponge cake and as she was sitting there told me that other than the very feeble attempt at a pedicure I’d given her a few years ago, she hadn’t had her feet attended to and beautified since I was tiny and she was in California… and that was over 45 years ago!
That evening, doing something so simple gave me so much pleasure and seemed to bring us even closer … it was made all the more fun by having Hope by my side and seeing her watching what was going on and pottering about doing her own thing.
The end result was (by any, let alone professional standards) a pretty rubbish pedicure, but as I pulled the pink toe divider things out from between her toes I did feel very proud and incredibly humble as I looked at her lumpy bumpy feet. It may sound odd but I felt very lucky to be able to have the chance to do something so simple and give my mother so much pleasure … and such shiny red toenails. Now I must attend to my own!!!
We all slept really well that night and I drifted off wondering if Hope will ever paint my toe nails, and also wondering if it will feel odd having a child old enough to paint her own nails in a few years time … after all she is my baby and can’t possibly be tarnished with varnish, let alone have her ears pierced .. or a tattoo … oh help!!!!!
Hope was born to a ‘geriatric’ mother but one who loves her very dearly and who will do all she can to open the world up to her and guide her towards the path to adventure … just as my wonderful, badly pedicured mother did for me.