Mothers and Daughters: 9 Important Issues Mum Didn’t Tell me About Life
What is it about old-school West Indian mothers and daughters? A lot of them found it hard, if not impossible to dish out the normal facts-of-life to their teenage daughters. I guess it’s because they didn’t get much advice from their mothers when they were growing up. I know that my mum didn’t.
I learnt the hard way as a teenager. It was a case of getting my fingers burnt, so I wouldn’t do it again!
These are the things my mum didn’t tell me about life:
- That my Friends could also be my enemies
Friends were the most important things in my life when I was younger. I couldn’t possibly live without them. I did everything to keep them. Mum loved my friends. She always invited them over for tea or sleepover.
But she forgot to tell me that they could hurt me, deceive me, lie to me, stab me in the back and walk all over me. She didn’t warn me that friends were not all peaches and cream. Some of them were like prickles and thorns.
- That I shouldn’t accept lifts from strangers
I grew up in the country in a small friendly community in Jamaica. We knew each other and I trusted everyone. When I came to live in London I was quite naive and not clued-up about life in the big city.
Mum didn’t warn me not to trust men I didn’t know. On my way home from work one evening a man offered me a lift home. I had waited for the bus for a long time and was glad for the offer. So I got into his car.
Big mistake! He drove for a while then parked his car by the roadside. He then unzipped his trousers and asked me to do something disgusting, which I guess you can imagine. I ran out of that car so fast, my feet didn’t touch the ground. I had a lucky escape!
- That she meant it when she said she would lock me out if I came home after 10pm
At 16 I did what most teenagers do. I went clubbing with my friends. Mum told me to make sure I was back home by 10pm the latest. But you know what it’s like. When you’re having fun, time is the last thing on your mind.
We were too busy dancing and getting chatted up. Sometimes we forgot to check our watches. One night I arrived home after 10.30pm. I tried to open the door but it was locked from the inside. I knocked the door. No answer! Then it dawned on me that mum had really locked me out.
The doorstep became my bed for the night. If you’ve tried sleeping on your doorstep, you’ll know that it’s quite scary out there on your own. That was the last time I went home after my 10 o’clock curfew.
- That my boyfriend could break my heart
Mum didn’t talk to me about boys or relationships. When I met my first boyfriend, I brought him home and introduced him to mum and dad. They liked him and gave me their approval to date him.
But she didn’t tell me about the signs to look out for from a cheating boyfriend. I was left to discover that ugly side of a relationship for myself. He did a lot of things to hurt me and the experiences were painful.
- That sex is special and should be valued
I was curious about sex like a lot of other teenagers. I wanted to talk to my mum about it, but couldn’t.
It was an unthinkable subject to her and not up for discussion. And I’m sure she didn’t expect me to experiment by trying it out either. But if you want something that’s available and no one tells you that you shouldn’t have it, you’ll take it won’t you?
- That if I got pregnant she would disown me
As I said earlier, mum didn’t talk to me about sex. My first boyfriend persuaded me that having sex was the right thing to do. He used that old line, ‘If you really love me, you’ll do it.’
Well, not surprisingly, I got pregnant. My mum was furious! She disowned me and threatened to send me back to Jamaica. She told me that I had brought shame on the family. Maybe if we had shared that important mother and daughter chat about sex, I wouldn’t have been so quick to try it!
- That learning to cook was necessary because one day I will leave home
My mum was a fantastic cook. But she didn’t allow me to share her kitchen. She didn’t think it was important to teach me the cooking skills that teenage girls should master.
When I left home I was a rubbish cook. My boyfriend was better than me. It took me a long time to learn how to cook properly.
- That living on my own would be so difficult
I had a six month old baby when I left home. It wasn’t my choice to leave, but my parents split up. Mum went back to Jamaica and my dad went to live in Birmingham. So I moved in with my boyfriend.
Life was tough. My boyfriend wasn’t the best partner. And I didn’t have my mum to lean on. We lived in a bed-sit, I was a teenage mum, I couldn’t cook and we argued all the time. To make matters worse we shared a bathroom with four other people. I hated it but had nowhere else to go.
- That life without a mother would be so painful and difficult
I was sad and upset after my mum went back to Jamaica. I was only in the UK for four years. We were just getting to know each other properly. And she left me again like she did in Jamaica when I was only four.
Every girl needs her mum around. She’s supposed to be your role model, your fountain of guidance, your shoulder to cry on, someone to sit and have a cup of tea and chat with and the one to run home to when your boyfriend is being a jerk. It was lonely without my mum. Telephone calls and letters to and from Jamaica wasn’t the same as having her around. I don’t think she realised the impact her absence had on my life.
I love my mum to bits but unfortunately she was absent for most of my life. I missed out big time on the mother and daughter relationship.
Growing up without having my mum around has made me value my daughters. I’m always in their faces. I call them a thousand times a day. They’re my friends. I don’t want them to ever feel neglected. It’s not nice living thousand of miles away from your mum. I make sure to tell my daughters about the important issues of life that mum didn’t tell me.
What type of relationship did you have with your mum? Was she always there for you?