Never Mind Me: Mother's Day, Motherly Touch

By Tyberius Larking
May 13, 2024
July 9, 2024
Last Updated
May 14, 2024
Written by
Tyberius Larking
Written by
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Tyberius Larking reflects on his relationship with his mum across the years for Mother's Day.

Breaking my mother’s trust

Just call her already. You call her or you sit here and freeze to death.

Estranged in a dim suburb, on a back porch in the membrane of plates of unmuscular pizza and fries, I went limp and dialled Mum’s familiar number.

“What’s wrong? What do you need? It’s past midnight,” she groaned.

Rocking back and forth on my cold, dense tailbone, feeling like a baby in a pram whose rattle’s slid out of grabbing range, I mulled over my wrongs, and my needs. 

Masses of moths, orphaned when some genius gave the bonfire a cordial bath, were ogling. I couldn’t tell Mum the whole spiel but I had to tell some truth. I was a role model to a whole generation of moth kids. 

Hey mum, you know that slumber party I told you I was going to? Well it's actually more like a backyard booze-fest, bong-sesh and I don’t even know where I am. I just hopped on a bus with a few friends. At first, I was having the time of my life, but then our grog ran out and everyone dispersed to pubs and bottle-Os – even the dude who pressured me into kissing him. 

I let this grungy boy, probably weaned on a diet of girls like me, suck on my tongue all evening. Then surprise, as gentlemen do, he ditched me and ditched his phone in my short-shorts. Without the bonfire, it feels like 0 degrees. And I didn’t even pack pyjamas. 

It hit me as I reviewed the facts that my truth was neither child nor parent-friendly.

“I…I need you to pick me up.”

I glanced at my baby face, in the wet door of a scrap metal microwave. 

I guess it was karma. It was Mother’s Day and I’d been a pretty daggy daughter.

By Tyberius Larking

For weeks, I’d been making wild promises, teasing Mum and getting her hopes up. I’d promised a foot rub and debridal, followed by an hour of fine dining; all the seafood killed and hot-coaled by the hands of the head-chef. Said I’d call my uncle, get him to assemble the DIY fondue fountain.

 “We’ll eat the whole house chocolate-dipped.”

And then I’d heard about the hang-out and I was so sick of being mollycoddled. So sick of the nickname chicken that at the last minute, I rainchecked on Mum and made up a story about an upcoming test and a sleepover study sesh.

Doubt she bought what I was selling. She’s got a sixth sense – a motherly bull-crap radar. That’s probably why she hugged me so tight earlier that day, pulled my head into her collar – why her heart fluttered to a stop when she whispered, “Never mind me. You’re still young, you deserve to have fun.”

Mum sighed straight into the phone’s mic, “Can you wait till the morning?”

If waiting were an option, I wouldn’t have called. I’d been willing to crash on some armchair or even in a bathtub or a wardrobe but every body-shaped slot was filled by unconscious bodies and there wasn’t a blanket in sight. 

“No…It’s kind of an emergency.”

How unfair, how punishing, to be a mother whose love language is touch, raising a kid who hates being touched. As a child, as a rule, I didn’t give hugs and I didn’t tolerate them – not from anyone. I was no one’s property. My ground-state was grumpy. When I did let Mum cuddle up, for the sake of family portraits, I’d never reciprocate. I kept my lanky arms stiff by my side and my mouth a straight line. 

If I did hug, it was practical. If I did, it was motivated by absolute need, when there was heat at stake. As a means to an end but never out of affection. 

In the bush, where the elements will deplete you faster than you can deplete them, the touch of a mother is a bub’s only hope of surviving. Emus eggs need constant insulation for the 56 day incubation. Emu parents go days without moving, without eating and drinking; sacrifice up to a third of their body weight to keep their babies warm. Now that’s dedication. 

How unfair, that so much of parenting is sacrifice. That parents of all species make a habit of saying “never mind me.” 

Embracing my mother

As you may know, I adore moths and butterflies. For a while, scientists thought roosting, when groups gather at night, could be evidence of communal spirit. But studies of their group dynamics have pretty much ruled this out. Roosting is simply a means to an end, a way to stay warm. 

These creatures just don’t do family, and they don’t do hugs. Eggs hatch on their own, raise themselves. 

It’s ironic that only now, now that I’m too big to fit, I ache for my mother’s pouch. I guess this is karma.

About a week ago, I found Mum, on my porch, vibrating, leaning on one of the veranda’s poles to keep from falling over, wild curls tearing away from her face. Her spine was diagonal, distorted by the strong, dry, wind. 

But she stood straight and proud, soon as she spotted me. 

"Surprise!" she sprayed, a big gaudy grin on her face. 
I dropped my groceries in shock.

“What’re you doing here?”

"I was shopping on my lunch break, and with Mother’s Day ‘round the corner, everything was on sale!”

“Weather’s turning,” she giggled, pulling, from thin air, pair after pair after pair of huge woollen socks, “These’ll keep you cozy."

I gulped,.Another Mother’s Day missed – I never learn.

“I have to confess, I’ve been really busy. I haven’t bought you anything, I didn’t realize it was so close.”

She waved a hand dismissively, "Never mind me. I run hot.” 

“Promise me you’ll wear these?” she asked, softly sliding a sock onto each of my hands like oven mitts. 

I yanked her towards me, pulling her head into my collar, cradling, rocking back and forth on my cold, dense feet.

By Tyberius Larking
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