James doesn’t have any grandmothers who are blood relatives. He has two grandfathers, one step grandmother and is lucky enough to have two great grandmothers. He adores his grandparents, loves playing with them and makes himself at home at all of their houses. His relationship with my mum’s mum is lovely. He seems fascinated by her and smiles every time he sees her. When she comes to our house he hides behind the cushions on the sofa so she will play peek-a-boo with him, and at her house he happily sits and plays with all the toys she has for all of her great-grandchildren.
My mum died when I was 15. I have now been alive for longer without her than I have been with her, which I sometimes find hard to get my head around. So much has changed since she died, not just in my life but in general too. She didn’t ever get to see the wonders of an iPhone, there wasn’t any Facebook and we were only just beginning to get to grips with dial up internet. Most importantly though, I wish she could’ve been here to meet James. I don’t know what it is like to bring up a child when you have your own mum there to support you, to answer your questions and to tell you you are doing a great job. There have been times when I wish I could’ve asked her how she dealt with things with my sister and I. What did I eat when I was James’ age? How long did she breastfeed me for? What was my sleeping like? How did she deal with tantrums? How old was I when I started talking? These are the sorts of things mums remember.
I can remember when we got home from the hospital, and James was just a few days old, my husband and I got completely overwhelmed by having just had a baby. We sat on the sofa and both cried that our mums would never get to meet our son, but we also now knew what they must have felt like when they had us. That feeling of unconditional love, a love like you have never experienced before. We had an understanding of how hard it must’ve been for our mums, being faced with terminal illnesses and knowing that there was a possiblity that their life would be taken away and they would never get to see their children again. The thought of not being there for James when he grows up breaks my heart and really scares me. Like any parent, I want to be around to see him grow up and have a family of his own. I want to always be there for him. Life can be so cruel that these things just happen that you have absolutely no control over, and then have such an impact on peoples lives. I also worry that James will grow up worrying that I am going to leave him, because of what happened to both of his grandmothers.
We may not have our mums, but we do have each other. We are proud of the fact that we had James in a foreign country, away from any family. When times were hard and we weren’t getting any sleep, or James was constantly crying, we weren’t able to call up our mums, or any family and ask for help. We had to be strong, support each other and work through it. There have been days where I just need a break and would love to be able to hand James over to my mum, but this is never going to happen. I see my friends having help from their mums, and going on day trips with them and I wish that could be me, but it won’t be. I also know too many mum friends that have also lost their mums at a young age, and I know exactly how they feel and what they are going through. I know how hard it is for them.
Although we miss our mums, we often joke that we are semi orphans. We can’t control everything that happens, but we can make the most of the time we have as a family. We can try and live in the moment and make wonderful memories with James, just like we have wonderful memories with our mums.