Utopian Dreams, Mother’s Day, & The Shoes My Father In Law Left Me In His Will…

I dream of a Utopia… I dream of a world where every day is a day for people to be genuinely nice… without needing to be reminded via huge advertising campaigns and paradoxical sentiment. Jeez I sound a tad grouchy tonight don’t I? Maybe spending the afternoon at Ikea – looking at kitchen designs and trying not to weep while watching my Ayahuasca In Peru Holiday go up in smoke – has something to do with it. A few years ago that might have been the case, although a few years ago I would not have been dreaming about taking a trip to Peru to explore paths to enlightenment. So Ikea is not to blame for any perceived grouchiness. To be honest I enjoyed sitting watching my wife get all excited at creating her dream kitchen. The visions of the future where I’m constantly cleaning the kitchen after one of her Cooking With Chimps experiments (the simplest meal prepared by my wife leaves the kitchen looking like a team of chimps have had an amphetamine fuelled food-fight) don’t even frighten me. My trip to Peru? Well that’ll come when the time’s right, and in the meantime I get to advance in my journey of non-attachment and living in the moment… and that’s all fine by me.

The truth is I’m not grouchy at all. The truth is I had a good old fashioned day with the wife. You know, one of those days where all the husband has to do is turn up and act interested and supportive – one of those days every now and then is good for the soul (and great for Good Husband Credit). The truth is yesterday was Mother’s Day… Aha, now we’re getting somewhere…

I’m not a fan of Mother’s Day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Mothers in general and I am the epitome of the phrase Momma’s Boy. It’s the specific ‘Days’ I’m not a fan of. I don’t appreciate someone telling me that I have a duty on a certain day of the year to be nice to my Mum or to remember she exists. I’m the same with Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, and any other Day which is marketed to me in a way that fuels mindless consumerism and hypnotic conformity. For instance: I spend 365 days a year trying my best to be a good husband but if I have a lot on my mind come February 14th and forget to buy a Valentine’s card? Well, then I’m Attila The Hun and my name will be mud round the table at the next Ladies Do Lunch Day. Thankfully, while my wife loves cards and all things sentimental, she also loves having someone in her life who will be blunt at all times and stand by his principles regardless of the outcome. Jeez what a legend I am… she’s a lucky girl… and I remind her constantly.

The truth is I don’t work with a safety net or a Plan B in anything I tackle. The truth is I don’t need a Valentine’s Day to make up for coming home drunk and pee’ing on her favourite slippers two nights before our wedding. I don’t need a Valentine’s Day to make up for the fact that I had to phone her to come pick me up from one of my gigs… because I was too drunk to drive… because there was a Jack Daniels promotion on that night… and because I was on top of the tables leading the whole bar in the best Burns Night festivities in history. I just own that shit as it happens and take the consequences square on the chin.

The truth is – my wife’s the legend. Her Dad (God rest his beautiful soul) used to be her go-to Blunt guy. A guy who gave her straight talking at all times, with no bias and no back doors as we say in these parts. A wild, crazy man; a recovering alcoholic with over 20 years sobriety under his belt when he left this world; and a man who was as reliable as he was unpredictable. The benefits his life has bestowed upon me are immeasureable. When I’m sat in my little home recording studio, working like a mad scientist throughout the night? My wife doesn’t complain. She remembers the nights her Dad would spend in his garage, working on cars and tinkering with engines of all shapes and sizes. When she comes home from work, rushes to the toilet, shouts out “How was your day honey?” and I shout through the bathroom door “Cool. I bought a Jaguar. Gotta go, I’m late. See ya later…”, and she almost falls off the toilet into the bath as she rushes after me to find out if she heard me right… and all I can do is laugh… she doesn’t get mad or “wifey”. She remembers the times when her Dad would have went out for a loaf of bread and came home with a wreck of a car that he would then restore and work on. When I’m on one of my crusades or one of my many “live like a monk not a drunk” journeys she doesn’t laugh or try to dissuade me. She doesn’t worry that me experimenting with super clean living will interrupt her enjoyment of a gallon or two of wine with every meal – I jest, she only drinks a gallon or two with dinner. She doesn’t get frightened when sometimes it looks like all I have to offer are demons and darkness. She remembers her Dad giving up alcohol in a single instant and she remembers him facing some serious demons head on and living to tell the tale. Her undying devotion to him laid the foundations of her undying devotion to the Crazy that is me. For that I could never articulate my gratitude into words.

The truth is I feel the gaps in the shoes I have to fill every day in life… they are big shoes. She says I remind her of him a lot and that’s probably the hugest compliment she could ever pay me. The truth is I have to watch her heart break open every Father’s Day, as it’s a painful reminder that he’s gone… and therin lies a big part of the problem for me with ‘Days’. All I see around those Hallmark times of the year are people being conned into trying to prove their love for a Spouse, Partner, Father, Mother, or even their God by spending money and lavishing them with worthless trinkets and empty sentiment. If advertising slogans were honest the campaign for every one of those Days would read: “He who spends the most loves the most. He who doesn’t spend doesn’t love. Don’t worry about the rest of the year just get it right on this particular day because We tell you to.”

And what of the people who are reminded of painful truths on Father’s Day or Mother’s Day? What of the people who lose a day, every Mother’s Day, just because the day is so overblown and exaggerated that they can barely get out of bed knowing that their Mum isn’t just a phone call or a visit away? What of the people who spend those days at a graveside instead of round a family dinner table?

This Mother’s Day in particular fell on my lost little angel’s birthday. She bypassed this life and made her way straight from the womb to the afterlife. She would have been thirteen years old yesterday. I’m not angry, confused, or bitter in any way regarding her brief stay and ‘premature’ departure from this life. I faced those demons and stared down those gunfighters until only I was left standing, and peace was mine. I still remember the ordeal and the trauma but I feel blessed and humbled at how peaceful I am regarding the loss. I believe in a bigger picture and while I don’t have all the answers I do know they are there, in the bigger picture. I did get quite upset however that this year’s Mother’s Day fell on that date. I got angry at the thought of my ex-wife having to smile and celebrate Mother’s Day with our two daughters, on the anniversary of a day when she had to give birth to a daughter who we knew was never going to celebrate a birthday.  I got angry that she had to put on an even braver face than usual on this date. I got angry that I can’t make her pain go away or stare down her pain the way I did my own. Maybe I’m not angry at all, maybe I’m still feeling that wound ever so slightly and I’m lashing out at Hallmark Days in an attempt to deny my pain. I don’t think so, but it’s always a possibility.

I had no plans to write any of the last paragraph at all. It just came out and maybe it was just meant to – maybe someone needed to read it. Who knows…

Anyway, back to topic. Having a wife who understands her husband not buying Anniversary cards and Valentine cards is one thing, but how do you get that sort of philosophy past a Mum? How do you go through Mother’s Day without even turning up with a card or even sending a text saying Happy Mother’s Day? That would be a tough one for most people but not for me. You see my Mum really is the most awesome Mum on the planet, and not just because a card told me so. All I had to do to make my Mum’s day was drag my naked ass out of bed after a late gig and a few hours sleep, put on a nice shirt and tie (and trousers of course), turn up at her front door, and surprise her with those words that just light up her wee face – “I’m coming to church with you this morning.” It cost me nothing but time and it was priceless to my Mum.

Money comes and goes but time never comes back to you. Knowing what makes someone happy and acting on it is the best thing any of us can ever do for the ones we love. I’ve been the instigator of more than a few heated debates on spirituality and religion in the family home and round the family table on many occasions. I’ve almost brought the poor wee woman to tears when I’ve been off on a rant about how modern day Christianity and organised religion has perverted truth and brainwashed people for centuries. I’m a big dumb hot head at times and nothing stings more than realising you were a complete assmunch after you’ve cooled down and thought about what you said just a few hours earlier. Yesterday I wiped the slate clean and knocked it outta the park. My younger brother might have beat me to the front door, sitting there all smug, drinking tea after having been down super early with his Mother’s Day gifts, thinking he was the King of Mother’s Day, but when I swaggered in and uttered those magic words – “I’m coming to church with you this morning” – he knew for him it was Game Over. I may as well have walked in and hit him over the head with a banner that said “Suck on them apples little bro!” It’s times like these that remind him I will always be the master and he will always be the grasshopper. Unless of course he lands in next year, after years of never darkening the door of a religious building, and decides to go with her to church. Hmmm…. the only way to top that would be to actually deliver the sermon on Mother’s Day and I don’t think there is a pulpit that has an “open mindedness and tolerance” policy to handle whatever is going on in my head on any given day… so that would either be a disaster or a revelation. Does anybody really want to roll the dice on those odds? I may have created a monster here…

The truth, and I mean the BIG truth, is that my Mum is a true legend. She doesn’t want the latest designer watch or handbag or expensive restaurant experience. She doesn’t want the oversized card and overpriced flowers. She just wants her sons to turn up now and again and go to church with her so she can show them off… the way she used to when they were little boys walking behind her like little ducks, wearing matching outfits, picking their noses, fighting, and complaining about having to go to church. Those days, funny enough, were the days when my kid brother outshone us all. He was so disruptive and badly behaved that it was easier to let him stay home on a Sunday morning. A victory he still rubs in our faces. Even one of my ill timed sneeze farts, rattling off the wooden pew like a machine gun going off in a drum shop didn’t win me the luxury of Stay At Home Sundays

As a 6ft tall, heavily tattooed musician, sporting a mowhawk, and a few piercings; walking into a church and being proudly introduced to everyone my eager little Mum could accost was a beautiful experience. A Mum sees past the 6ft tall scary avatar and sees the little duck who picks his nose, fidgets, and follows his Mum everywhere she goes. The truth is we should have a day to celebrate Mothers and it should be every day you wake up…

Just for the record, and in the name of balance, I’m not grouchy in the slightest. Nor am I a Grinch or a cynic of any description. The truth is that there are Mothers who only see their children one day a year and who would maybe never get a call or a letter or a visit if it wasn’t for Mother’s Day. I know that full well but it’s not my truth. The truth is I dream of a Utopia, and if I want my Utopian dream to be realised I have to realise it in my own life first, before I can see it in anyone elses.


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