"A father carries his offspring until they are old enough to make their own way in the world, but a mother will never place any time span around the breadth of her affection or extent of her patience and will be prepared to carry her offspring until the day she dies.
No matter how far we travel in life, our mother is always with us. Just as we started off our life inside her, even when her body lies outside this world she will always live on within us. That is what makes her the gatekeeper of our inner strengths, our lighthouse of constant guidance and guardian of our souls. Even death itself cannot sever the umbilical cord that enjoined us at birth, through which mum continues to yield her genetic influence from beyond the grave. Even when mum is no longer here, she still remains in our shadow and lingers behind our every thought and breath as we see her stare straight back at us through the faces of our offspring. She makes her daily presence felt in their looks and peculiar ways, in their mannerisms and movements. She is always the first woman we loved in our lives, and along with our lifelong partners, is invariably the last!
For many a man, mum has helped pick our wives; having shaped our taste and fashioned our character without our knowledge, simply by being the mum we love. Often, we unconsciously retain that Oedipus Complex that Sigmund Freud highlighted in his lifetime's work. For instance, I have always dated shoulder-length black-haired women and would probably have turned down Marilyn Monroe without a second glance. Coincidentally, my beautiful mum had long black hair in her youth, way up until her late fifties when a few grey hairs started to gradually appear. Even many strict Irish Catholics from the land of my birth who could never give acknowledgement to the proposition of Sigmund Freud, have a propensity to place their 'Mammies' before their wives and to revere 'The Blessed Virgin' on the same level as Christ!
Without knowing it at the time, many a man measures his future wife to his mother's looks more than he realises, forming his present fancy and shaping his future dreams. It is not, therefore, surprising when his wife happens to have many of the physical features that his own mother once possessed in her youth when she first met his dad.
It also becomes less surprising when he says to his sweetheart, 'Are you sure we've not met before in some other life. We like the same things....and share the same values. It's uncanny....like destiny intended us to meet. You are so like me; so like the soul mate I've always hoped for.'
What he really means about his bride-to-be is, 'You are so like the mother I've always had, loved, worshipped and adored!'
Then, as our own children arrive on the scene, money and time alone with our wives becomes scarcer and tempers start to fray more easily. The once passionate nights we used to share over a pizza and a bottle of wine become gradually replaced by discussion of money shortage and the rationing of his or her activities while the financial belt is tightened. Bodies seem more tired after a hard day's work and parental patience start to wane when 11,00 pm comes around and the kids still aren't asleep. Add all of this to a decrease in intimate contact, allied to your marriage partner's increased nightly headaches, and you find the closeness you once shared nightly before your parental years of marriage has faded into distant memory, only to re-emerge at Christmas, holiday and birthday occasions, plus the occasional wedding attendance and night out on the town. All of the aforementioned sadly signals the arrival of the 'routine marriage stage'. Paradoxically, this is a much calmer time in married life when the couple now rows less often; largely because of their split duties, overall work commitments, waning energy and growing need for personal space and personal interests tend to keep them apart more than together.
This is the stage of marriage when the couple reassesses their relationship. The man starts to wonder what life would have been like had he married Jenny with her natural long black hair, instead of Julie, who had long black hair that was artificially coloured when they first met, and who, unknown to him, had been born a natural brunette! The man looks at his wife, who looked like his mother when they first met. As he looks anew at the woman he married and gradually notices her natural hair colour take root in her head once more, he sees that she no longer looks like his loving mum, but is now fast growing into the spitting image of his mother-in-law who never thought him good enough in the first place to marry 'her little girl'.
'Mummy....Mummy, where are you Mummy when I most need you? Your big boy wants a cuddle and a bit of sympathy. Nobody understands me like you do!' And the sad but simple truth for many a man, the bare fact, is that no one ever will!"
William Forde: May 14th, 2017.