One Word, Mum.

One Word, Mum.

By Nadine Finlay, Sydney Australia.

Four years and four months. That’s how long, someone has been calling me mum, mummy, mama, lady who feeds me.

Sometimes it takes me a while to realise he is speaking to me. I wonder, who is this woman this kid is yelling at? Why isn’t she responding? But it’s me. It will always be me. I will always be his mum.

He is my best friend and my worst enemy. He can bring me up and break me down in five minutes flat. 

Sometimes, I reminisce about the old me. The one who owned billions of ridiculous shoes, every colour yoga pants, had pristine, cascading hair and glowing skin. I wonder what she would be doing now, had she not become the mum. I imagine her in India, spending months at an ashram, being all Zen and annoying. She would be peddling her vegan lifestyle to her friends and wondering the world in a kale- filled haze. 

Or maybe, she would be sitting having a coffee one morning, filled with despair, at the thought of never being called mum by a little boy, with a big heart.

But here I am now, four years and four months later, being the mum I believe my son needs. His great defender, his unsung superhero, his partner in life exploration.

Together we wonder through everything, learning, living, laughing, being the pod for all the peas. 

Our wondering has often led us into some "interesting" situations.

We live in a predominantly white Australian community. There are heaps of Asians, Middle Easterners and Indonesians around, but they all work in the retail shops. There are one and a half Caribbean people in our community – myself and my son. And we live here, which is even stranger to the residents.

While Australia is home to almost every race and ethnicity on the planet, the integration of these groups is not seamless. Muslims live in their own area, Lebanese in theirs. It is not a melting pot, but a bento box – mixed to your own tastes.

I’ve had the "pleasure" of experiencing racism before and unfortunately, over time I’ve come to expect it.

One time, we were walking along the street, my son and I, when a heavily pregnant woman started walking alongside us. I could tell she was listening in on our conversation, but I didn’t mind. My son and I continued to chat. We got to the end of the street and the pregnant lady turns to me with a huge smile on her face and says...

“You are great with kids! Are you looking for more work? I really need a nanny.”

I stare at her. My son stares at me. She stares at me.

“No”, I say. “ I can’t take on anymore at the moment!”

She smiles and walks away.

I stand there, flabbergasted. Shocked into silence. Was it my clothes covered in paint? My hair? What was it that said to this woman, so absolutely, that I was not a mother walking with her son?

I wish I could say, this was the last time it happened. But, sadly, no. 

I’ve come to terms with it and even banked a bunch of ridiculous responses for when it happens. 

“Yuh mudda!” (a Trinidadian slang/insult) is my favorite, as really they have no idea what I am saying anyway!

Four years and four months...and the only person who needs to know I am a mum...does.

Nadine Finlay and her son.

Nadine Finlay and her son.

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