Well, I am a mother but more accurately I’m not a happy daughter.
It was Mother’s Day in the UK over the weekend and this year I forgot. My dad reminded me so I was able to call my mum, but I forgot.
Does that make me a bad daughter? Well in the words of my brother, “Every day is Mother’s Day!”. But the main reason I forgot was that my parents weren’t with me this year.
Not a happy Vegemite
I have lived in Australia for about 17 years now, and for almost every year since I moved here, my parents have been out to visit me. This has meant more to me than they probably realise. While I love my life here in Perth, the thing I miss most in the UK is my family. Not just my immediate family, but also all my cousins and our entire ever-growing tribe. Last count I think was 19 members in the third generation alone!
The last time we were there, almost all of the family came together for a camping trip. Sounds great, but that just happened to be the weekend of yellow-alert storms with gale force winds.
Putting up tents in a field was…
It just shows how much my family, all of them, mean to me.
Thankfully, my parents were able to come to Australia at the beginning of 2020, just before the pandemic took hold. It’s been nearly a year since they left, and that makes it the longest time my children have not seen their grandparents.
What makes it worse is that, at this stage, we have no idea when we will see them again. 2021? 2022?
Long time, no see
When I made the decision to stay in Australia, I knew there would be long stretches that I wouldn’t see my family. Flights are not cheap, 26 hours is a long way to fly to just pop over for the weekend and don’t get me started on jetlag.
But there was always a plan. A date. A flight booked. A family gathering arranged. I felt it anchored me back to my roots.
COVID-19 has, so far, succeeding in destroying all that. Not only for me but for my friends as well. I have one friend longing for the snowy fjords of Norway. I have another friend hoping that the last time she saw her father-in-law would not be the last time. One friend hasn’t seen his children for over a year. It’s heart-breaking.
So close yet so far away
We talk about how small the world has become, but when travel is shut down, it feels like a giant chasm has opened up.
Technology makes it easier when you can talk to them at any time for virtually free when using apps like Facetime or Zoom. Grandparents can see their grandchildren growing bigger, see their school work, admire the drawings and listen to the new songs they’ve learnt. But it doesn’t replace the bear hugs, the tickly squishes, the falling asleep in their arms, the smell of newly washed hair, the good night kisses as the little ones wander upstairs to sleep.
Facetime doesn’t allow you to eat Granny’s meatballs, wrestle with Uncle Andrew or play hide and seek with Uncle Paul. My dad can’t hand me a large Pimms cocktails through the screen. You can’t argue with your cousins on whose turn it is on the Nintendo Switch.
Enjoying meatballs and family time in the UK.
In my last post, I mentioned the importance of human connection when being a freelance writer. Being separated from your loved ones makes this even more imperative.
So Happy Mother’s Day to my mum. I’m just not happy because I can’t give you a hug to show you how much you mean to me.
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