This morning I had a realisation. It was a bit late in coming, and for all my intelligence, there are some things that I am pretty slow on. I watched bubba play on her mat, and I thought about my own mum. I can be cynical about the world, and right now, various of my fears are on the up. Change will do that, and this change is pressing quite a few buttons I have skilfully avoided for the last 35 years. So anyway, I was thinking about my mum, and about how many times I had felt unloved, or unwanted, or ignored, or loved on condition of various objects in return. I was thinking about her and it came to me at last to see beneath those behaviours of hers which made me feel that way. And I saw that I was one of the lucky ones because I really am loved.

Love is a doing word. It comes to you in acts. If you don’t behave lovingly, then the person you love won’t know that you love them, until they are 35 and have worked it out for themselves, watching their own baby squeal and smile and thinking of all the ways in which she wants to make sure, and will inevitably fail, but will keep trying to make it known to her bubba that she is loved.

I realised something hard and something else that was good. My mum has always loved me in her own fashion. Her own demons sometimes make her behave unlovingly, without knowing it, perhaps sometimes knowing it but ignoring it because her needs can be so great. I can keep questioning it or I can use my intelligence to see beneath those behaviours and know that the underlying river of love that I have floated on all my life is real. I didn’t realise it about my dad until he was gone. So I am glad I have finally figured it out about my mum before it is too late to let go of some of my own personal baggage and reach out to those I love, in actions as well as thoughts.

The hard thing I realised was this. As a mother, I can make mistakes. Sometimes I will not do the right thing for my bubba. Sometimes my own personal stuff, or my lack of awareness, or my inexperience, or my being human, is going to mean that she will sometimes feel that I don’t love her. All I can do is try to make sure that the times she feels loved are more than the times she does not. I know there is no such thing as a perfect mother and worrying about it is only going to put up a barrier between us. I am reassured to know, even though it might have taken me 35 years to figure out, that there are many ways to heal something that seems broken. In my own chance at loving, I hope I can keep my broken heart to myself and reach out with the heart that renews itself in giving – including, maybe especially, in giving to those who may have broken it without realising.