‘Where before I had, and indeed needed a mother, now I have a friend’

Dominique McMullan: It turns out this superwoman figure needs me just as much as I need her

Dominique McMullan with her mother. Photograph: Nessa Robinson

Dominique McMullan with her mother. Photograph: Nessa Robinson

 

A few weeks ago I wrote a column about my dad. His reaction was what I expected: loving but stoic and measured. I’m sure deep down he was doing cartwheels at his daughter’s very public adoration, but on the phone that Saturday, not so much.

Irish dads of a certain vintage don’t really do brouhaha. And I’m okay with that. I get my brouhaha elsewhere: my mum. While Dad was calmly telling me my column was “good”, Mum was laughing from across the room “For God’s sake M, tell her you loved it! Tell her she’s wonderful!”

I wasn’t there but I could picture her sitting beside the fire, lovingly rolling her eyes, probably in her curlers.

While Dad has been my life’s quiet background support, my mum has been my very vocal cheerleader. She stands on the sidelines (and indeed sometimes runs on to the pitch) all the while roaring my name. We’ve always been close.

The other day she rang me in work to exclaim “I was just walking down Grafton Street and suddenly I realised that you don’t live at home anymore!” I haven’t lived at home for nearly 10 years.

I know how very lucky I am. Relationships between mothers and daughters are undeniably more complicated than with fathers. We tend to place our mother’s on pedestals so high that they can never really meet our expectations.

Dual carriageway of support

When I realised my mum was a fallible human and not some motherly superwoman our relationship changed. Instead of a one-way exchange in which she played agony aunt, emotional punching bag and neglected sidekick, we created a dual carriageway of support.

Now we have phone calls about the books we’re reading, her exceptionally busy social life and what I might have for dinner. The most frequent interactions will usually involve passwords, printers and locating lost photo folders. Technical support is a forte of mine.

Recently, I’ve discovered traits that even in the 31 years I have known her were hidden to me until now. She’s funny, in a silly sort of giggly way. She’s also spiritual and has a boundless empathy for other people. Just like so many mums, she looks after everyone else before she tends to herself.

These days I try to step in before that happens. It turns out this superwoman figure needs me just as much as I need her.

Where before I had, and indeed needed a mother, now I have a friend. Happy Mother’s Day Mum x

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