This One is for My Mom

For the gal who squeezed me into existence whilst off her face on chow mein.

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Low quality image. High quality ugliness. This is what we look like behind the Snapchat filters.

It’s pretty crappy really, that we dedicate a lone twenty-four hours to the celebration of our mama’s. They have easily spent at least a minimum of twenty-four hours scrubbing away the dried beans off our plates and the skiddies in our pants. They have given not just one, not just several, but every day of their lives to us — and we thank them for it with a Yankee candle (no disrespect to candle lovers. It’s just that, if your mom is anything like mine, then they should definitely be kept away from exposed flames at any and all times). That doesn’t feel right. It isn’t right. We should celebrate them every day of the year, every single moment. Except maybe Pancake Day. (That’s a day to celebrate me. Considering I passed both my theory and my practical driving test on that very same day, two years consecutively. Clearly cars do not run on petrol, they run on batter).

But anyway.

It’s The Day of The Mother. And considering Mama Nature has been kicking up a right fuss and launching a few storms at us these past few weeks, I better get this done asap, so that my mama doesn’t follow suit — she’s already windy enough as it is.

Sunday the 22nd March, 2020. Momma, our Trace, is likely at work, likely serving her niche version of a latte and platefuls of happiness. She has the ability to enhance the world with nothing but her voice-box and an amaretti biscuit. Because even on Mother’s Day — a day designed in order to recognise just how perfect a parent she is — she’s still doing what mama’s do and working hard, working tirelessly, working in order to provide the continuous amount of biscuits her daughter so desperately requires (for survival purposes). I guess the title of “mom” was forged in one of the most powerful entities within the known universe (no not Ryan Reynolds’ chest) — directly in the heart of every star, ever. Which just so happens to be where my mom is derived from, too.

What Mom Means, as Defined by Some Dictionary I Found Online

  • Mother, noun. Oxford Dictionary: “a woman in relation to her child or children.”
  • Mother, verb. Oxford Dictionary: “give birth to” (dated).
  • Mama, informal. Oxford Dictionary: “a mature woman.”
  • Madre, noun. Collins Dictionary: “mother” (Spanish).
  • Mum, Mam, Ma, Mummy, incorrect. Don’t Question Me On This: “they’re wrong.”
  • Mom, scientifically accurate. The Universal Dictionary of Life: “your first and forever soulmate” (in conjunction with Robert Pattinson).

Please note: all of the above definitions have been peer reviewed (by me. I am my own friend) and confirmed as factually correct. Although I do question the second one. The only kind of mature my momma is is the cheese-kind. Because she is a savoury snack.

What Mom Means, as Defined by Our Cats

The following transcriptions were obtained via extensive interviewing and the persuasive lure of sliced ham just to get them to hop down from the door frame and bloody sit still for long enough.

Research question: how would you define the title of being a mom?

“The small naked lady — sometimes with the lone chord of her dressing gown tied round her waste but not the actual dressing gown because hot flushes are real and they are sweltering, so I’ve heard — who shovels out my fresh turds at all hours of the day. And by fresh I mean rotten, decaying, tangible representations of the darkest depths of Hell. That’s on her though, she feeds me well. Don’t fuel the tank if you’re not prepared to use it, am I right? She also lets me chew her hair. I think that’s definitely a paramount feature of being a mother, for sure.” — Harley (nickname: The Other One), age 2.

“Somebody who lets me lie beside their womb. Obviously I wasn’t born from there, so I like to reenact what would have happened if I was, by frequently kneading away the flesh of her abdomen and clawing the crap out of her hands whenever possible. I want the entire experience to be authentic you see, blood and screaming and all that. Plus, hey I’m a cat, I can’t resist the aroma of fish.”— Lyra (nickname: Ginge), age 2. And yeah, I am completely making these numbers up.

What Mom Means, as Defined by Those She Isn’t The Mom To

So yeah, that is literally 7.8 billion other people. Not to mention what I imagine to be an apocalyptic quantity of gerbils out there.

The Traces of Our Trace. (Mom, this is a video. You have to click the link. No the….the link…the li-…. mom, no the link….the link!…. sigh….hold on I’ll show you).

See momma, people think you’re pretty damn (tr)ace! Except the seventeen other participants I asked. Their responses cannot be showcased due to the graphic, vulgar nature of the content.

What Mom Means, as Defined by Her Mom (from Wherever She Might Be)

The enemy of your enemy is your friend. The mom of your mom is your nan.” — Not Shakespeare. Sick of him getting credit for everything, if I’m honest.

If we were currently residing somewhere in a different pocket of a parallel universe, in which crappy illnesses didn’t exist but a Doc Martin film franchise did, then my nan would still be here. She’d be with us right now, serving up oversized hot dogs layered with caramelised onions and a scooping of salt on the side. We’d gather round her table, shoving off all the run out felt pens and scooting the original bottle of Lucozade out the way in order to unfold the Cluedo board and laugh, manically, as two generations of Fennell’s tank tremendously at it (mom and nan), whilst the remaining one soars triumphantly (me). And then mom would zip out the room and up to the loo because the combination of hysterics and the eighty glasses of water she would drink in a day is disastrous. She has the bladder control of a sandwich.

And whilst she was peeing, I would glance back at my poorly executed felt tip drawing of the three of us with pride (I might not be ten anymore but I still love to draw. I still can’t draw. And I still have severely low standards), turn to nan and say, “what does mom mean to you?”

Nan would grin, her teeth slipping loose (they never did quite slot back into place correctly after being chewed on by her Jack Russell), her eyes beaming. There was nothing she loved more in this world than my mom (and my uncle. And respective family. And green flip-flops).

“Your mom? She means exactly the same to me as what she means to you. She’s my daughter, my little girl, and I’m her mom, and the three of us, we’re connected in a way only we will ever know. She is made of pieces of me and you are made of pieces of her and she is all the best parts of the universe, crammed into one tiny person. Why do you think her hair used to be so big?” Nan would cackle then, this resounding, familiar sound that even the most distant of planets could hear. They would think it was a song from the heavens. And in some ways, it was.

“Your mom means the world to me. She is and always has been the greatest thing I’ve ever done. Her heart is her greatest feature, despite the fact that her beautiful face — which she got directly from me, just so you know — has lured in many a lad, and wherever she goes, whoever she meets, they’re left as the luckiest people and places alive. Because they got the chance to know her. Even if only for a moment. I just hope that your mom knows quite how proud I am of her. Couldn’t get her out the bloody house until she was 28, but now I wish I could coax her back in forever. It has been even better than watching Martin Clunes roam around Cornwall, watching her thriving in this world. She has gone out there, become renowned for being wholeheartedly herself, she is loved by literally everybody she encounters. She has made herself a home, a child and a fridge cake that’s almost as top quality as mine. Almost. She’s so timelessly kind and intelligent and, regardless of what has happened on any other parallel universe out there, whether I am physically here or I live on within the energy coursing through her veins, she’s stronger than I think she will ever realise.”

We would hear the floorboards creaking above us as mom pads her way back down the stairs. Before she returns to the living room, we’d hear the fridge door open. A classic manoeuvre. “No matter where I am or how long I’ve been there, she will always have me with her. Like your favourite book — you don’t need to read it everyday to know what’s inside it. We are forever tethered us lot. She is me, you are her, we are one. That will never not be the case. So what does your mom mean to me? Absolutely everything. And then seven everything’s more. As I know she does to you.”

What Mom Means, as Defined by Herself

  • “I’m not a performing monkey,” mom grumbles, whilst performing for my Instagram, prancing round the living room like a monkey.
  • “I smell like a savoury snack,” mom says, catching a whiff of herself as she gets the washing out. She smells cheesy. Slightly meaty.
  • “I am Janet Street-Porter,” Kermit the Frog says. Oh wait it’s not Kermit, it’s mom, trying to do her Janet Street-Porter impressions but sounding like that animated frog puppet instead. Sometimes Stephen Hawking joins in, too.
  • “I’m a 60 year old woman!” a voice bellows across the kitchen. A voice that belongs to my mom, who is not even close to being 60. In fact, I think this quote is from 2004.
  • “I’m upset. That’s upset me now,” mom chuckles. She’s fake frowning, a stubborn pout emerging on her face. It’s all pretend. She’s made entirely of stardust and cookie dough. Happiness radiates from within her.
  • “I’m yellow!” Mom gasps. “I’m yellow,” she repeats, flatly. Blinking at me through the reflection in the hand mirror balanced on the radiator, I see that she is, in fact, yellow. Or more specifically, her fringe is. The Poundland box of blonde hair colour sits smugly beside her.
  • “I look like Eileen.” She doesn’t mean Eileen, she means Shirley. And she doesn’t look like Shirley.
  • “I’m knackered,” she whispers, eyes falling closed, because it’s true, she is. She works harder than you will ever know, zipping around on her feet all the live long day. But it’s more than that, it’s more than just the physical work. Her heart runs on a mixture of rocket fuel and summer fruits squash; she brightens peoples day, gets them smiling, keeps them grinning, sends them home ten layers happier. People gravitate to her and she maintains all their obits, all at once. It’s tiring being an entire sun.
  • “I’m hungry,” mom declares, glancing at me. I, too, am hungry. Ravenous, even. Moments later the snack cupboard has significantly reduced in quantity. This might be 8pm on a Thursday. This might be 10:12am on a Sunday. This might be mid-apocalypse. The point is; never has a truer definition been stated.
  • “I’m your mom, I made you,” and yeah, she’s not wrong. She’s certainly demonstrated enough with profound hand gestures to showcase exactly how I was made. But does she have to use that as an excuse to claim my birthday as a day to celebrate her? Again?

What Mom Means, as Defined by Me

Anatomically: big hands. Bigger bladder. Biggest heart. No eyebrows.

Mentally: four. Maybe five. Depending on how many jelly babies she’s ingested that day.

Emotionally: heightened. Enhanced. Amplified. She feels things at a much more powerful intensity than any other human. Her 9% is most people’s 100% — and that’s on a bad day (like when the endless latte machine at Wethies isn’t working). Her heart is not made of mere valves and veins, like others. It’s comprised of raw, potent love and the core of several thousand large stars. Her maximum capacity exceeds that of the whole damn universe. When she loves you, it’ll feel as though somebody has wrapped you in fifteen Primark’s own teddy bear throws. You’ll never know a warmth like it. And you’ll probably sweat your nuts off.

Metaphysically: she is the epitome of all the love, light and laughter in this cosmos. She is the exact point where mind and matter merge (because she’s out of her mind and she’s all that will ever matter), where reality and impossibility bisect (because she’s real bloody impossible sometimes), where energy and mass converge (because her energy is massive. And clearly dense, when you think about how little she is). She is the embodiment of everything of value. Like free samples in charming Spanish chocolate shops to tourists who’re rapidly burning through their funds (all on food. All on food). Like that small pot of salad dressing that appears sporadically, sat beside your jacket potato smothered in two servings of tuna mayo. Like that tiny little arrow, pointing to that tiny little spelling mistake, that’s present on every heart-stopping homemade card you’ve been given. I know that outwardly she’s a human. But inwardly and eternally, she’s not, not really. She’s so much more than that. She’s everything more.

Extraterrestrially: hahahahahahaha yeah. She’s an alien, alright.

Personally: oh man, mom. I just don’t think this world quite gets it. I don’t think they quite understand how it’s possible to be in love with your own mom. Because maybe it’s not. Not in a way that us humans can comprehend, anyway. Maybe it’s a kind of love derived from the very heart of the universe, raw and melty and served in purple cardboard tray with a dollop of ice-cream. And maybe it’s only us encompassed by it because we’ve been there too. You know what we’re like; we’ll inadvertently rack up 15000 steps before we stumble across the right cafe with the right ambience and the right kind of lemon cake — even if that means venturing out to the centre of the cosmos.

So maybe that’s why nobody will ever quite know what it’s like to be me and you. Nobody will ever quite know what it’s like to be caged in a mechanical loo, terrified yet howling with laughter that you just might not be able to wee fast enough before the cubicle decides to sterilise itself with us, sweating and Snapchatting, inside. Nobody will ever quite know the Olympic sport that is traipsing around Primark when you’re armed with nothing but a burning desire to ditch this for a Costa panini and absolutely no predetermined shopping list whatsoever. Nobody will know what it’s like to perch on a stationary coach and inhale your lunch (at 9am) before the doors have even closed, as though you’ve recently returned from war (if war was in fact a quick trip on the train and a pre-lunch Krispy Kreme doughnut (at 8:15am)). Nobody will know what it’s like to know that everyfinn is alright. They don’t know that they have to shuffle you over, two inches to the side, before we take any and all mirror selfies. They don’t know that it takes two to three attempts minimum to watch anything on the tele before you’re actually able to absorb it (and even then, even after years of loyal viewing, you still don’t bloody know 87% of the characters names). They don’t know the speed in which love can morph rapidly into hatred at the mere sound of an apple being bitten into. They don’t know what it’s like to be comprised of jacket potatoes and cherry Pepsi, exclusively. They don’t know what it’s like to witness hair being tugged through a plastic scalp. They do not know why there’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza. They don’t know the importance of a fold out table and a chocolate pancake in front of the tele. Or the manic screaming of a ginger zipping down the stairs. They do not know what it’s like to shave four years off their life due to stress induced by nothing but blue lips and a dry shampoo lid. They do not know what it’s like to be us.

And they never will. Because they’re not us. They’re not me (which is good for the sake of all biscuitkind) and they’re not you (which is good for the sake of me. I don’t think I’d survive with having more you’s to love. That kind of immeasurable power belongs only to nebulas. And Lisa Vanderpump). You see, everybody else? They are stars when you are entire galaxies (equipped with a central supermassive black hole. Which often stares at me from across the sofa). They are characters when you are the entire story (unsuitable for kids. With crumbs wedged between the pages). Nobody on this planet is you, and nobody on this planet will love you like I do. I love you in every possible way, plus seventeen of the impossible ones. You are a lump of gammon launched up the garden and I am a tiny bird. You might smell a little off, but you are my source of survival. You’ll fuel me forever.

So what does mom mean, as defined by me? Mom means pages, the very pages of your story, in which all your words are inked. Mom means fabric, the very fabric of space, in which all moons and planets are stitched into. Mom means the person who made you, who enabled you to live, and whom you could not live without. And not for one moment would you ever want to.

Guess How Much I Love You. Oh Wait, No, Don’t. You’ll Keep Guessing for Bloody Days

I love you right up to the moon,” Mama Nutbrown Hare said, and closed her eyes. Likely whilst sitting through their fourth attempt at watching Eastenders.

“Oh that’s far,” said Little Nutbrown Hare. “That’s very very far.” Fortunately, as a bunny with a certified physics degree, she knew exactly what was even further. “I love you right up to the moon — and back.”

And momma, Racey T, Crystal Clitt, our Trace?

I really, really do.

I imagine in a parallel universe I might be a caricaturist or a botanist or somewhere asleep on the moon — but here, I am a writer.

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