Keep Going No Matter What
A story of my mother, by Kevin Mitchell
A bubble. That’s what my mother put around me as a young child. Space within the world where nothing from the outside could touch me. So much like the bubbles we have grown used to through these tough pandemic times. Much as in this strange time, being bubbled left us isolated, and afraid. I remember being afraid.
My mother did her best, fighting in difficult circumstances. She fought for a home for us. She fought for food, not always eating herself. She fought for work, taking jobs as a dinner lady and carer. Yet my mother left lasting lessons I still hold to, she fought for us.
She taught me sacrifice. Think of others in your day, not only yourself, and be active in sacrificing for the greater good. I reflect on how this ethos has always been an undercurrent to big life decisions I have contemplated and wrestled with. To have a family, to volunteer, to campaign for change that will improve the lives of the most disadvantaged. I am a mental health advocate. Part of the drive to do this work comes from my experiences with my own parents. For many a year my mother did not look after her own health. Sacrificing too much takes a toll. A lesson I learned later than I now would have liked, but I have reached an understanding and my choices will be better for it.
She taught me to keep going. I am unending in my willingness to work towards something. No set back will stop me, only delay me, no trial will cause me to pause and set down the worth. Once I have decided to commit to a goal I will see it through. My mother never gave up, through the hardships of her young adult life she kept going. She took the next right step. Not always getting it right, but always trying. Today I see that in me. I was the first member of my family to go to university, the first to get post graduate qualifications, and I secured my ambition, leading a large team in a critical mission public sector organisation. Today I write, my absolute dream work, something I have done since I was four. I always shied away from putting myself out there publicly, instead practising my work and writing for others. Finally, this last year, I know I am ready to write as me for others to read. The route of this drive I saw in my mother, all that time ago.
She taught me to have faith. Originally framed through the Catholic faith, this concept of faith gave a sense of hope, and a sense things can and will one day be better. A sense that words cannot break my bones and that good deeds are right, and right is rewarded. Over my life I have thought of faith more widely than Catholicism, but those core principles remain. I have faith in bountiful abundance, faith in humanity, in our capacity for beneficial actions and invention. Faith in myself, that my actions have meaning and I can bring about change. Faith in community. Faith provides an unrelenting reserve of energy to keep going. Without such a deep rooted sense of faith I wonder who I would otherwise be.
She taught me independence. I believe in community, but rely first on myself for my own wellbeing. My mother stood alone, on her own two feet, for so many years when we were youngsters. I did the same. It is only in these last few years that I have recognised how deeply this trait runs in me, in how I would benefit from accepting help as a principle. I have started to accept, now I am in my forties, that I cannot do everything alone. In my work I have happily built and relied upon communities first, it is in my personal life this independence has overstepped. The roots for this are in my childhood and from my mother. Knowing you can stand independently is nonetheless a trait you can use positively, and one I do use in so many ways.
My mother gave me much I have built my life around. This is the story of how she shaped me. I look back at this story now and I see how she influenced who I am through our shared experiences, through example. That is her legacy to me.