Mum. An enormous word. For a tiny set of letters.
LB eventually understood I was his ‘mum’ and ran with it. As he tried to make some sense of a sometimes challenging world. He used the word ‘mum’ more any other (even the old favourites like buses, Eddie Stobart, septic tanks…) For 13-ish of his 18 years (he arrived late to speech but made up for it), the word ‘mum’ consistently prefaced sentences when I was anywhere near striking distance. ‘Mum…Mum?’ ‘Mum?‘ There could be twenty ‘mums’ before anything else was said.
It drove me to distraction at times.
Now I ain’t claiming any special status, or a ‘super-mum’ identity. I was no super-mum. Quite the contrary. Particularly when it came to domestic type duties.
Cough. Cough. And I could go away without him missing me. He was more than happy hanging out with Rich and the other kids. But I was his mum. His constant.
A constant in a life that became increasingly bewildering, confusing and incomprehensible.
Mum. Someone he could rely on. The ‘just you and me Mum’ outings. The foyer incident. The re-assurer, after he learned about his diagnosis of a chromosome abnormality and then later, epilepsy, that everyone had got ‘something’. And if they didn’t now, they would at some point in the future. He’d often ask what people/animals had ‘got’, and we had a chuckle mixing it up; Chunky Stan had glaucoma, LB ‘trucks’, Steve Wright ‘dj-itis’.
I was, like other mums of dudes like LB, a fighter, defender, protector, advocate, manager. A key worker trying to craft an imagined future for him. In a world in which imagined futures for dudes like LB are rare. The bar set so appallingly and unacceptably low. On every count.
A person who loved him beyond life.
He fully expected his mum to collect him from the unit.
But I didn’t.