A year in people #90 – Mum

“Do you fancy a day out Mum? Just the two of us? Let’s go do something.” She looked suspicious; it wasn’t something we often did. “Maybe a walk around Clumber Park?”

I picked her up in the car, and as I drove I chattered away about nothing but I had a knot in my stomach. She knew something wasn’t right.

“What’s up Tara?”

I stared straight ahead.

“I’ve told [my ex-husband] I want to separate. He doesn’t.”

“Oh.”

I’m not sure that’s what she was expecting. It was a bit out the blue. As a couple we weren’t really having problems as such, and I’d never confided in my mum about anything.

I was pleased we were in the car. I always find it easier to have difficult, honest or in depth conversations when I don’t have to look at people and they don’t look at me. It’s why I love a good walk when having a deep or serious chat. I guess it’s to do with vulnerability perhaps, I just find it more comfortable when I’m not being stared or looked at. Maybe it’s something I should work on, or maybe it’s just something I’ve accepted about myself. Either way, I was glad I could focus on the road.

We spent the next couple of hours wandering around Clumber Park Lake and talking. We’d never talked that much about personal stuff, we didn’t really have that kind of relationship. Perhaps neither of us felt there was anything to talk about. Until now.

I couldn’t have asked for more; she just listened or asked questions with absolutely no judgement or opinion. Massive waves of relief washed over me. Part of ending a long term, heavily-intertwined relationship is the heartbreaking and difficult task of telling people. People who are also invested and embroiled in your relationship, and who probably have been for several years. Like it or not, there’s fall out that can ripple far and wide.

She continued to just be there, when needed, as I navigated a separation while still living with my ex-husband. She didn’t push anything or step too far back. Like the Goldilocks of parental support.

In fact, my Mum is always there, in the background, in case I need her. Most of the time I don’t, and I think she’s also happy with that, but it’s comforting to know.

One of the reasons I can live the kind of life I do is knowing that there is someone there for me to fall back to. Call it privilege, because it absolutely is, and I recognise that. It’s one of the reasons I find it easy to say fuck it, do it – because I know I always have somewhere to go. I know I have my family, who’ve raised and supported me to go off into the world and explore, but who’ll welcome me back with open arms and help me out at any time, in any circumstances.

I think one of the reasons my Mum never asked me if I was sure I wanted to get divorced is because she already knew that I knew I was sure, and that I had to go do my own thing, whatever that was.

I’m not sure she quite understands or gets why I want to do some of the things I do, but it doesn’t seem to matter. She just watches from afar, a silent supporter.

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