My mum died when I was four years old. It was a month before my fifth birthday and I have just recently found out from a family friend that my mum had bought me a beautiful life size doll with long chestnut hair and green eyes. She was hiding it in her wardrobe and was very excited about giving it to me on my fifth birthday. My mum never got to give me the doll and I never got to see it. It must have been destroyed in the house fire, along with everything else that I held dear to me.
My mum was killed by a man who came knocking on her door asking for lodgings. He was a bad man who had done bad things and his intentions were bad on the day my mum let him into our home. My mum was a good, kind woman whose intentions were good but very sadly the two worlds collided and the outcome was horrendous.
After my mum died I woke up in a hospital bed and I remember feeling very sad and numb. I knew my mum was dead and that our special bond had been broken forever. We were very close as it had just been the two of us after my Dad left when I was two-years-old. My mum was fun and energetic and loved to fool around. We would dance and sing together and visit Fairlands Lakes and go to the park. My mum was an animal lover and we had a black Labrador dog called Dandy. My mum was slender looking with Blonde hair and blue eyes. She would opt to wear jeans and casual clothes day to day and not wear any make-up but she always looked attractive and well kept with a natural beauty from within that shone through. She would wear dresses to family parties and wear a bit of make-up then.
After she died I had to face life growing up from a small child without my mother and without a mother’s love. I left hospital about six weeks later having sustained burns to both my legs and having three skin graph operations which left a scar on my left thigh. I moved in with my dad and his parents my nan and granddad. They were kind to me and gave me a warm and loving home. My nan would gently rub Nivea cream into my burns on my feet and legs after I had a bath. It was a loving family environment but I still missed my mum and the connection that we had as a mum and daughter.
I knew how special the bond a child has with their mothers is, and when I watched other children with their mums it reminded me of what I had lost and would never have again. I saw mums kiss and hug their children as they sent them into school and I saw the happy looks on children’s faces when they saw their mums waiting to collect them after school. I would notice how protective mum’s were of their children and the tender loving care and unconditional love that they shared together. It was difficult growing up without a mother’s love but I had an inner desire to do well and give life my best shot and make my mum proud.
In my mid twenties I got married to Glen and we bought a two bedroom house together and two years later I gave birth to a girl we named Susanna May Wright. It was important to me that she was named after my mum. My mum’s name was Susan Ann Chalkley so I thought I didn’t want it to be exactly the same as I wanted my daughter to have her own identity but also know she was named after her nan. Susanna seemed the best choice as it incorporates the name Susan in it.
It was hard enough getting married without my mum being there but nothing compared to the realisation of giving birth to my child knowing that this is what my mum went through with me and now I am going through it without the guidance of a mum. It hit me like a tonne of bricks and after giving birth. I was so happy to have Susanna a beautiful, healthy daughter I loved and cherished but I felt sad and numb that my mum was not able to be part of the celebration, and that connection that is passed on from generation to generation was broken. All the love I felt for my baby and all the things I was doing for Susanna like feeding, nappy changing, winding, clothing and taking care of all her basic needs was done for me by my mum yet I will never be able to ask her (my mum) advice or what it was like when I was a baby for her.
A few months after giving birth, I remember taking Susanna out in her pram for a walk. She looked so sweet, a tiny little bundle of joy all wrapped up and snug. Usually I always felt good when I was out in the fresh air walking but I just felt sadness deep inside me, I wanted my mum with us and that was never going to happen. It was like I was grieving for my mum all over again.
Not having a mum in my life made me very overprotective of my children. After I had Susanna I thought it would be best just to stick with having one child as I felt good that she needed me and I could shower her with love but I also felt a feeling of dread that she could die and I would never see her again. I would have bad dreams that she had gone missing and I was searching everywhere for her and couldn’t find her. Another dream that I would have would be of her being pushed in her pram into a lake until she and the pram were completely submerged into the water and I could no longer see her. I would be in the lake frantically looking under the murky water trying to find her but she had completely disappeared and I would be left feeling completely helpless and unable to find her.
I decided that it would be best that she didn’t do the swimming at day nursery as I would be full of fear that she would drown. I was always risk assessing every situation and had anxieties about leaving her in the care of others. I longed to have my mum with me and to support me, ask her advice and to share my feelings with. I had my nan’s who were brilliant but it’s just not quite the same.
After a while Glen and I realised it would be a good idea to have another child so that Susanna had a sibling and someone to grow up with and share her whole life with. It is said that most siblings stay in contact with each other their whole life where as friends come and go. I gave birth to another girl three years later and we named her Isabelle Amy Wright. I didn’t feel as bad this time round about my mothers absents and as things were full on now with two children I just had to muddle through.
I wanted to prove myself as a worthy mum. I didn’t like to ask for help so I would manage mainly on my own. Sometimes I would feel lonely, and I often thought I wouldn’t feel like this if I had my mums help.
Not having a mum has impacted on the way I parent as I don’t like to go out in the evening and leave them with a babysitter so we rarely go out as a couple in the evenings. We went out once last year in December with some other couples for a meal and we had a great time. We are planning to go to a friend’s 40th party in a few weeks and will be leaving the children with a babysitter but my youngest is complaining about it and wants one of us to stay with her. It’s not her fault; it’s just what she’s used to. I do feel resentful of other couples who seem to have their parents on tap to babysit and look after the children and their children seem to love spending time with their grandparents so everyone’s a winner. It just didn’t work out that way for us.
I remain positive about not having my mum here as I am very fortunate to have a loving husband and two amazing children. We have had some great times together and I love watching my children grow, develop and thrive. They are so creative and individual and full of spirit, it’s a joy to be a mother to them and spend quality time together as a family. I know that if anything happens to me I would want my children to carry on and have happy, fulfilling lives and that’s exactly what my mum would want for me.
I have some great memories of my mum, one being of her doing a magic trick with a box of chocolates. She would show me the box of chocolates having the tray full of different shaped chocolates and then she would ask me to go out the room and then when I returned the chocolates had all disappeared from the tray. She asked me to go out the room again and when I came back in she had magically put them all back in the tray. I loved that memory so much as I had no idea how she did it at the time and I was so amazed by it. It is a fond memory of my mine and I can see us both smiling and laughing as I ask her how she did it and she tells me it’s magic.
Another thing that kept me going was that when I was 16 years old my nan gave me a box of my mums possessions and in it was her diaries and some poems that she wrote. The poems were incredible and she had written one about me and how she loved me and that gave me strength to carry on. I was fortunate enough to write a book about my life without my mum and her beautiful poetry is also in the book. The book is called Without a Mother’s Love, and it is an honest and compelling account of my life without the presence of a mother. Most of you reading this will know how that feels.
Amanda’s book, Without a Mother’s Love…
Sometimes I imagine what my mum would be like if she was alive today. I imagine what she would look like and the type of mum and grandma she would be to my children. I imagine she is sitting at the table with me and we are both enjoying a cup of tea and a chat together. In my imagination my mum’s hair is shorter now and she has some lines on her face as she has aged. I also imagine her there sometimes when I am walking with the children, that she is at our side walking with us asking the kids what they’ve been up to and she is listening as they tell her all about it.
Never under estimate the importance of having a mum. A mother’s love is irreplaceable. Many of us do not have our mum’s with us now but we do have our own children to love and though it can be hard at times and you can’t do right for doing wrong. Keep at it as being a mum is a lifelong job and having children is so precious.
Amanda Jane Wright is 41-years-old and she lives Hertfordshire. She has two daughters, Susanna aged 13, and Isabelle aged 10.