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Mum, I wanted to make you proud.

by Will Tudge about a month ago in Secrets
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I’m not sure I have.

Mum, I wanted to make you proud.
Photo by Jocelyn Morales on Unsplash

I wonder, do you remember the last words I said to you? Could you even hear them, and if you did, did you understand, or were you past understanding by then? I’ll never know now, nor hear your answer. Oh, mum, I miss you! What I said to you then will forever remain a secret between you and I, and if, as I don’t believe, you are somewhere you can hear these words, then presumably I won’t need to confess. As a parent myself now, I know the overwhelming interest one has in one’s children’s affairs, so if you’re able to have observed all the mistakes and misery, you will have, and all I can say is that I’m sorry. But then you might also know that I could do with knowing you’re proud of me. Could do with hearing you say that following my heart is important, that I deserve to be happy.

I wonder if I could say this to you if you were here, or if I’d be too frightened of your disapproval, because I know if you did disapprove, you’d never let me see, you loved me too much for that. Would you be disappointed secretly, though, deep inside? She asked me what you had thought of my wife, and I struggled to answer, racking my memory for things you had said, expressions on your face that might have given away your feelings. I found nothing - either my memory is imperfect, or you would have made a killing on the poker tables. You would’ve believed that I love her though. I would’ve made sure of that. Because I do, I would never jeopardise my relationship with my children for anything less than love, and a love that I am certain of, at that.

I never set out to do it, mum. I thought I could tread the path of the virtuous right the way through to the grave, Maybe tempted, but never straying, like you and dad. 40 years together! I remember the party we threw for you. By the time I’d been married a quarter of that time, I knew I wouldn’t make it to 20, but I kept going for my children, telling myself that I didn’t matter set alongside providing stability and a happy home for them. But I knew I was failing, mum. Stability? Yes. A happy home? No. I remember you and dad arguing a lot, but I also remember you making up, and there being genuine affection. I speak to him now and he still loves you. It’s been different for me. I chose poorly, maybe you knew. If you did, I don’t blame you for not telling me at the time. You know me, if you’d said anything, I would probably have dug my heels in.

I can’t help but feel I’ve made a mess of everything. Maybe confessing to you is the last thing I should be doing. You see, no matter how old I get, or how long you’ve been gone, I will always be your child. You will always be my mother. The dynamics of our relationship don’t change, in my mind you will always be more grown up than me. What do I want from you? Forgiveness? Validation? Or for you to sort my life out like you sorted out my meals, and laundry and scraped knees, because I’ve proved myself not capable?

Ah. That’s it. I’ve stumbled onto it, That’s what I’m confessing. I’m confessing that I am maladapted, misformed. A child in an adult’s world. A child who is hurt and lost and wants his mother. That I have been tested and found wanting. That I am not everything you hoped I would be. And I’m sorry, mum. I love you.


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Will Tudge

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