I know that some of you who read my blog haven’t had great mums. I hope for a moment, you can borrow my mum. It would be impossible to list out all the kind things mum has done for me but I’d like to share a particular memory.
The day I get out of hospital. My friend Megan and I have driven to Manchester to pick her up, because her flight was delayed and the last train had already gone. My friends would be deserving of a post of their own because that day they had made sure I wasn’t left alone for a minute. Even though I joked I was like a piece of furniture in a Chuckle Brothers sketch, my friends were excellent that day.
Mum was supposed to be the last pair of hands I’d be passed on to that day but the delay put a spanner on the works. All credit to Megan to driving all the way to pick her up. We are not friends anymore but I’ll always be grateful that she did that for me.
The entire time I was at hospital mum and I had been debating should she come to the UK or not but we had decided she’d be the most useful once I was out. My parents knew I was safe at hospital but I had spent months being a depressed person in my flat and I knew one thing mum has never avoided has been a chance to clean.
I should mention at this point that in my family love has always been expressed in small, everyday things. Mum always ensured I’d leave a light on for dad when he was working late so that he’d know when coming home that someone had thought of him. The day after I mentioned to mum that carpal tunnel made my hand feel like it was burning, Amazon brought me a cooling pillow.
I can count the amount of times my parents and I have said we love each other with one hand but I’ve never for a second doubted whether I was loved or not.
There had been so much between us not seeing each other that day. I had tried to kill myself, ended up in hospital for three months. We had dealt with all of this over the phone.
Once we arrive in the car park, despite my incredibly useless description of Megan’s car, mum opens the back door before we even have time to start looking for her. I shouldn’t even be surprised. If I’d have to describe my mum in one word, it would be practical.
“Where did you come from?” I ask her first in English.
“I just figured it out”, she answers in Finnish and instructs me to go pay for the parking while she and Megan try to force all of her luggage into the tiny car. We only formally acknowledge each other by the time we drive out of the car park.
She takes a hold of my shoulder from the backseat.
“My baby”, she says in English.
When we get to my hometown, mum and I almost manage to have an argument because Megan had left us in the back alley and we had to roll her massive suitcases around the block to get to the flat. With much difficulty we manage to get the suitcases into the flat, and in a typical Finnish fashion she orders me to make coffee even though it’s almost 11pm.
The recommended dose of caffeine a day amounts to about four cups of coffee. My family drinks about eight or nine cups a day, the last one late at night. ‘So we have enough energy to go to sleep’ my parents joke when having the evening coffee.
I have become too British to handle the evening coffee but today is a special occasion. Mum has brought ‘pulla’, a kind of cinnamon roll, in a paper bag and the smell is heavenly. Like always, mum doesn’t stop. She moves back and forth between the rooms, changes the bedding, unpacks her suitcase and fills every possible inch of table space with the things she has brought. When I offer to help, she tells me to sit.
I watch her. Mum has taken care of everything and everyone as long as I can remember. She gets bored easily and will come up with projects for herself to keep busy. After months and months of being in hospital and missing my mum it’s so incredibly wonderful to have her there, right there in front of me. The coffee machine makes a comforting bubbling sound and the smell of fresh coffee fills the flat. The difference between this and the hospital is so stark that I feel like my lungs are about to burst.
It’s OK. Everything is OK. Mum is here, she’s taking care of everything. Finally she stays still long enough so I can hug her. She sits down to have her coffee.
“It’s not as bad as you made it out to be”, she says, referring to the flat.
“I guess. I just needed mum to dust it for me”, I joked.
“You needed your mum long before.”
No. We’re not doing this. I’ve told them a million times I don’t want them to feel guilty because what happened wasn’t their fault. I begged for their forgiveness after my suicide attempt and they told me there was nothing to apologise for. This should go both ways.
Hours later I am lying in bed next to mum, in fresh pyjamas, in fresh bedding, my stomach full. I had been too ill to wash laundry for months, and she is asking me what would be an appropriate time for her to put the first load in the washing machine as not to bother the neighbours. We always share a bed when I’m over at my parents’ house because there is no spare bedroom and my flat is the same. Having her next to me, right there, makes me feel safe the same way it did when I was little girl.
In the middle of the night I stir. She is sitting up in bed, fixing my duvet carefully as not to wake me up. I pretend to be asleep.