Archive for January, 2023

Mother Hunger

January 8, 2023

When you look back, it’s like looking into the sun. I squint, to focus better.

Or a dream: it’s like trying to reflect on pieces of a dream, the sequential elements that slotted into place jigsaw-style to form a picture of coherent shape and sense.  Already, though, I don’t recall exactly which bit goes where, what happened when, who said what, who laughed hardest?

That’s the thing about holidays: they pass in a blur. A car going too fast so that the view slips past my window, a smear of colour, fingers through paint. 

It’s the same every year. Every year since my children were grown and flown and a precious two weeks collected each year to spend at home, en famille.  

The anticipation is heady and I am drunk on plans, my head spins with flight arrivals and taxi schedules and who’s coming when and at what ungodly hour of the morning. And virtual baskets are stuffed full of stocking fillers and my search engine history bears testimony to my gift selection as I look for precisely which item would best suit a person’s wish-list.  

I am giddy with the wanting and the waiting and the counting down of days.

Don’t wish your time away, I hear my mother’s voice in my ear. She used to say that to me when I was little and Christmas couldn’t come fast enough.

The quicker it comes, she warned, the quicker it will be over.

I bat the warning away again.

And then they are here, my children, one by one, arriving in taxis at 2am and I whisper hellos so that I don’t wake the whole household up.

And breakfasts are long and leisurely and lunch is three hours later and we all pat our girths at tea time and laugh at how plump we’ll get and then we look forward to supper. 

And fourteen fat days are fed with a frenzy of looking forward and looking forward so that there’s nothing left and no need to look back. Our hunger is sated.

My hunger is sated. The lean hunger of a mother who doesn’t see her children for months and months and months on end, who knows that the swim of a face into a screen is never, ever going to be the same as the holding of that face between the palms of my hands, the rest of that head against my shoulder, my arms raised to encircle the necks of the young people who are far taller than I.

Mother Hunger.

And I am home now and they are grown and flown and back to work and there is no trace they were ever here except for the photos on my phone. The swim of a face into a screen.

Already I am leaner.

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