When insurance company 1st For Women asked me to write a piece as part of their #weputyoufirst campaign on the woman who has always put me first, I knew it would be an easy-hard one to do. Easy because my mother immediately came to my mind, and hard because my mom isn't so well (something I've written about on my other blog Dear Max before), and she doesn't have the capacity to put me – or anyone first – owing to her condition.
This doesn't make me think any less of her, but part of me always longs for what was, what she was, and what I used to get from her. And the most I can do right now is try and emulate her example, and attempt to put my son first, and then my daughter when she's born.
My mom used to the "fun mom", and my friends loved her and her humour and easy nature. She wasn't the strictest, which worked in my favour every time I needed a sick note to get me out of a swimming gala or cross-country race that caused me much anxiety. She was the good cop who salvaged me from the "pain" of coming last in another school event, and whose empathy for me in those situations outweighed the "rules".
I remember that getting sick with tonsilities or a cold meant my mom would stay home with me, run around me, and be the best non-official nurse – nurturing me, getting me my favourite treats and comic digests, and reminding me in her words and actions how much she loved me, and how much she wanted me to get better (I however could have stayed in my mom's care beyond my recovery).
Before my mom's brain tumour was diagnosed when I was nine, she battled with migraines for many years before doctors found the cause. I can recall many times when she wasn't feeling well, but I can barely remember moments where she wasn't present, where she wasn't present in our lives, and where her headaches were an excuse not to love, and to do so much for us. She never complained then, or after when she had major brain surgery. Not when years later she started losing her memory and capacities, and had falls, operations and a stroke, and more recently, seizures every few months.
I think she wanted to protect my brother and me from her pain, thus putting us first before her, a pattern that seemed to repeat itself.
I miss who my mom was so much, but I'm grateful for a mother who put her kids on centre stage in her life, while carrying us there, and beyond.
For more information on 1st For Women, go to their website.