Sofia Abasolo’s Guest List: Mothering Without My Own


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One woman and her boy.

Sophia sent this list to me out of the blue. Which I love. It’s content really made me think. Above all  I felt full of admiration for Sophia:  what an achievement to have carved a path as a Mother without someone to show you how. Here she shed light on her experience.

You may remember Helen of ‘Without my Mum Blog’s Guest List last year: ‘Questions I Wish I Could Ask My Mum.’  I recommend taking a moment to read both these brilliant pieces.

  • The trauma of losing my mother when I was eleven means that when I love someone, I become terrified of losing them. This is a huge challenge with my son, but the silver lining is that I don’t doubt my love for him. I knew straight away.

  • I don’t worry about the every day stuff. The occasional bouts of sudden and intense fear of losing my baby mean I have no energy left to stress over little things.  If I had to summarise my parenting style, I would say it’s akin to how most mums raise their second born, except without the valid excuse of a toddler.

  • Call it a fascist commitment to winging it – but I didn’t read any baby books, and I don’t compare notes. If he’s smiling on a regular basis and his poo isn’t purple, we’re doing great.

  • I feel overwhelmed with gratitude. Okay, I’m not a saint – I don’t wake up to a crying baby and thank God I’ve lived to see another glorious morning of poo, milk and vomit (or ‘changing, feeding and burping’ as it’s euphemistically called). But every day I have a moment where I feel grateful for our routine, because for a long time after my mum died we didn’t do routines in our house. The flip side of boredom is stability, so deep down if I feel bored, I’m grateful.

  • As a mum, your instinct is to be there for your child at every cost. To cover all contingencies, to meet every need, to do whatever it takes. Cue the feeling of guilt when we realise we can’t actually do it all, and there’s a limit to what we’re capable of – even for the most controlling, most A-type, most self-sacrificing, most determined among us (and what mother isn’t all of these things when it comes to her kids?).

  • But having lost my mum when I was still a child, I learnt first-hand how resilient kids are. My son only has one mum, but if – God forbid – the unthinkable were to happen, I know he would be able to continue without me. He will, like countless other children of less than perfect parents, thrive regardless of the choices I make and the mother I turn out to be. Phew!

  • I couldn’t tell my mum when my periods started, nor when I got pregnant, nor when I had the baby, nor when I had a million and one questions and doubts and fears – I couldn’t share anything to do with womanhood with my mum, because I lost her before I embarked on the journey of going from girl to woman.

  • And yet I got through it all.

  • the cramps

  • the UTIs

  • the first times

  • the bad times

  • the laughs

  • the breakups

  • the gossip

  • the tears

  • the hormones

  • the smear tests

  • the nights out

  • the mornings after

  • the poor outfit choices

  • the great outfit choices

  • the proposal

  • the wedding planning

  • the wedding

  • the pregnancy

  • the labour

  • the mothering– I still managed to navigate womanhood without the one woman in my life who was best equipped to guide me through it. That’s something that even in my darkest hour I will always be massively, unapologetically proud about.

  • Of course, I would give anything to swap the engraved bulk of stone I had to ‘introduce’ my son for a real, flesh-and-bones, laughing, smiling, cuddly grandma.

  • I wept uncontrollably at said ‘introduction’, turning to my brother and saying ‘she couldn’t meet him,’ simultaneously feeling glad that my son was too little to understand that I was upset– remembering the two times I’d seen my own mum cry, how helpless I had felt, how upside down it felt to see my strong, rock solid mum be weak and vulnerable.

  • But as Stephen Colbert said when talking about losing his father and two brothers: ‘the thing I love the most is the thing I most wish had not happened.’

  • I think he was paraphrasing Tolkien… I dunno

  • Point is, that’s exactly how it feels to become a parent after losing a parent. It gives you strength and enormous comfort to know you survived that grief. And that strength and comfort becomes your cheerleader in times of need, your superheroic alter ego, and it really is the thing that you love the most…

  • …and the thing you most wish had not happened.

  • But it did happen. And the birth happened too. And you’re here. And so is your baby. And the husband/father. And a few other important people too. You’re all here. You’re all here. Be thankful, you’re all here.


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1 Comment

  • Reply muddlingthroughmarlborough November 12, 2016 at 10:26 am

    Sofia, that’s beautiful, thank you. My mother lost her mother at 11 and I can imagine she feels similar to you in a number of ways, but she struggles to express her feelings.

    What you said about boredom rang so true. I had an exciting but very unstable childhood, and the routine of early motherhood has been an absolute gift to my sense of security and mental wellbeing.

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