It’s been a funny sort of Mother’s day. I’ve had all sorts over the years. I’ve had the ones where I’ve spoilt my mother with flowers and cards, with breakfast in bed and a mess to clear up. I’ve had the ones I stubbornly ignored, hating the absence of cards from the children I had failed to produce. I’ve had the glorious First Mother’s Day, with a card from my son and a gap after his name where it should have read ‘and’. I had a Mother’s day in hospital with two angry red newborns and here I am again – in hospital on Mothering Sunday.
You have to acknowledge the beautiful irony of being admitted for a hysterectomy on Mother’s day. Now that I’m sitting in my room filled with peace and quiet and a room spray called Floral Indulgence, perhaps I should see this as a treat. After all, I have space to write, I have the film channel on standby, I have a basket of tempting goodies to my side… Except of course I don’t want it. Any of it. I want to be at home with the children pestering me, with CBeebies on a loop and my husband sighing as I open the laptop again. I want the perverse right to have more children even if I don’t want them. The sad fact is that I will always have one child too few. That wouldn’t change even if I were to have a dozen or more – I’ll always be missing a boy.
There’s something shameful about this type of surgery. You’re made to feel as though you’re confessing to some sordid secret, or acknowledging a secret addiction to pickled eggs. Various work colleagues have, over the years, shared intimate detail about their hernia ops or their ingrown toenails, yet I find myself swallowing the word ‘hysterectomy’ in an effort to spare their blushes. I lower my voice, look furtively around the room and just about stop myself from folding my arms under my bosom like a Les Dawson tribute act. “I’m having a hysterectomy“. I say, mouthing the word apologetically.
The men fall into two camps; those who look aghast as though I’m suggesting they take a cheese grater to their testicles in sympathy, and those who pull up a chair and talk sympathetically about hot flushes and my menstrual cycle. I don’t know which is worse.
So here I am. In hospital on Mother’s day simultaneously wishing for tomorrow to be over, and wanting it never to arrive. There are positives of course. Where else would I be offered legal morphine on tap, a bed to myself and meals on wheels? Then there’s the eight weeks off work at exactly the point where I have copious rewrites to do on my first book. It really couldn’t be better. Happy Mother’s day.