By Holly Downes
When you are a young child, your mum is just your mum. The person who must take care of you, because without her, you are lost. You cannot put your shoes on the right feet. You cannot make an edible meal. You cannot go to sleep without her kissing you on the forehead. But as you grow older, your mum is so much more than a person you rely on for everything and anything — she is your best friend. The person who you can endlessly gossip with. The person whose shopping addiction you can gladly take advantage of. The person whose advice is the only you will trust. Mums are so much more than ‘just mums’ — they have moulded you into the person you are today, and we should appreciate them for that.
I reached this epiphany when I was forced to enter the real-world — a world where being attached to your mother’s hip became rather childish. My slowly maturing self realised that not every mum was like my mum. Not every mum was french-plaiting their daughter’s hair in the excruciatingly early hours of the morning. Not every mum was saying up past midnight to finish their daughter’s art project which they had forgotten about. Not every mum was altering numerous clothing items just because their daughter didn’t like how it fit. When I was younger, I was wrapped up in a bubble of expectations. I automatically associated the title ‘mother’ with the many selfless actions to please their children, as if it was some assigned duty. Yet, it is no one’s duty to go above and beyond, it is a choice. A self-sacrificing choice I took for granted in my younger years.
As I grew older and developed an independent streak, I no longer needed my mum to do all the things my younger self insisted upon. I could plait my own hair. I could do my own art projects, although hers were always better. I could leave the house without desperately clutching onto her hand for support. But I still need my mum. I still need her hugs. I still need her brutal fashion advice five minutes before I’m due to leave. I still need to be in her company. The bond between a mother and daughter doesn’t change when you get older, your wants and needs just adjust. You need them as much as you did on the first day of primary school — the tight squeeze of your small hand, their words of comfort and their familiar scent of their perfume still has the same effect.
My mum has taught me to trust my gut instinct more than anything. She already knows whether someone was bad news or not and every single time, without fail, she is right. To steer clear of that girl who I thought was my best friend in the whole world. To not go to that dodgy party. To not buy that overpriced top I probably wouldn’t like in two weeks. I trust my mother’s judgement more than anything — she gives me the truth and nothing but the brutal truth, which safe to say, is a humbling experience.
My emotions automatically become her emotions. She has selflessly taken on all my traumas as if they were her own. Every time I feel that the whole world is against me, every time I encounter hardships that seem unsolvable, she is there by my side no matter what. Everything that affects me, affects her ten times more. That is simply just the kind of person she is.
If anything, living away from home has only elevated my appreciation for her. Knowing that I cannot barge into her room in a panic pleading to borrow one of her many designer bags, enjoy a Sunday countryside walk in their presence, or talk nonsense over endless cups of tea is something I have just had to live without. Calling her after my lectures never lives up to reality — hearing her voice through a singular AirPod will never be the same as a conversation over the kitchen counter. I even strangely miss being bombarded with messages immediately after I step my foot out the front door, or being greeted with an angry text that I stole her coat for the fourth time this week. It makes me appreciate these little things more. The comfortable silences. The bursts of laughter. The warm hugs only a mum can offer.
My mum has moulded me into a mini version of herself. I have inherited her mannerisms, her little habits and most importantly, her selflessness. And for that, I am forever grateful to not only call her my mum, but my best friend.
Illustration: Anita Lu