As I plucked my eyebrows this morning, I glanced at the red rose which I have romantically placed by the mirror in our bathroom. Along with a handmade card from Camila’s teacher, it is what remains from the Mother’s day event Camila’s daycare had organised last Friday.
I lie. It is not all that remains from that cheerful afternoon. I keep on having colourful flashbacks of that celebration which never fail to make me giggle. From the 70’s decorations with that kitsch-cheesy feel that only my brother would admire, to the ice-breaking game which had four mothers scoffing on sausages hanging from a string made out of masking tape, to the grand finale of music and dance with the tall and skinny singer, the incarnation of the perfect Latino son in law in his shiny silver suit with shirt and tie, I am left with a mosaic of hysterical images as impalpable souvenirs.
Memories drenched in dread and yet excitement of similar events to come, where cultural differences will make of my everyday life an exciting script for a personal comedy.
As I tried to seclude the catching Cumbia notes and the related picture of twerking mothers creeping in in my head, I found myself pondering on the feeling of being a mum.
Apart from the fact of having a child, which is the prerequisite to be classified as a mother, when do I really feel ‘Mum’?
By the time I completed my beautifying procedure, I came up with ten of my personal mama-moments:
10– when Camila holds my hand. I remember holding my mum’s hand when walking down the street in my younger days. She had a super firm, very manly grip. I remember even more fondly when, in the harsh Milanese cold winters, her hand was covered in soft suede gloves. (How I loved those gloves!) So now when Camila and I hold each others by the hand, I connect to all those feelings and I am a Mum.
9– when Camila says ‘Mami, look!”. Though even when I did it to my mum as a child I knew how much that annoyed her, in the same way that grinds my ears now, when Camila repeats it a thousand times a day but…it really makes me feel like a mum. I mean, how could it not? She is actually calling me ‘mami’…
8- when I tick the box of surveys or questionnaires that ask me if I have children. Obviously, but I am always left with a ‘uh, that’s right, I am a mother’ feeling.
7- when I use Camila’s or my t-shirt to dry her nose. Gross but not always tissues are at hand. In fact they never are when you most need them. So if my mama used to do it, then I can do it.
6- when Camila comes back from her walk in the garden with a bunch of flowers for me. The sweetest gesture. I do remember picking flowers for my mum. Even from people’s gardens and I even got shouted at once for picking some cute feathery white flower’s out of someone’s garden’s bush. I must have been aesthetically ocd even back then because I remember that particular bouquet really needed a sprinkle of white.
5- when I bake Pizza. In my family it was a weekly tradition to bake pizza on a Saturday night. My mum would prepare the dough in the afternoon and a few hours later it was a whole family affair to be prepping the pizzas. My mum would lay the dough in 6 individual tins. Mine was the baby one as I am the youngest of my family. I would smear the tomato passata on the dough and then the production line would commence, with the next sibling in line to place mozzarella and everyone to garnish their own pizza with the desired toppings. There were the odd arguments over whose ones would be baked first or who would be up for sharing but it was altogether a joyous memory. My dad would turn up when summoned to the table and always commented on the nice variety of toppings surprisingly dispensed to him. That was the only evening of the week when beer would replace his customary glass of red wine. So now I am the matriarch of the pizza baking in my family. Not on a weekly basis and not in such a spacious kitchen as my mum’s, but I do let Camila spread the tomato sauce on the pizza base and that makes me qualify as a star mum.
4- when I tickle her, do the stupid forefinger and middle finger walk or pretend to steal her nose with those same fingers. She loves it, I love it, (it’s so retarded!).
3- when I count to three and I go: one, two, two and a half, two and three quarters…
2- when I lick my thumb and clean dirt off her face. I believe this is every child’s pet peeve. Who wants to be smothered in your mother saliva and have your face rubbed down by her coarse thumb? Exactly, but it works and I do it and it makes me chuckle when I do it. This has got to be the ultimate mama-badge!
1- when I put Camila to sleep. The occasional song I hum softly until she tells me to shush. When I stare at her sweet features in the dim light and run my hand through her hair and feel my heart exploding with love, and wonder “are you really my daughter??”
Happy Mother’s day to all you mamas out there! What makes you feel a mama? I am curious to know!