8 weeks ago my mother passed away. She suffered long and hard and finally cancer won as it does too frequently in too many families.

As she was nearing the end of her life, my father came to visit her.  It was the first time in over 20 years that they had been in the same room as each other and that I had my “original” family – the three of us – together.

As they talked, like two old friends catching up, old wounds were set aside and they started to speak about me, who was still their baby even at 40.

My mother started to cry and said that I had achieved everything on my own, that she didn’t help me with anything in life.

The rest of the conversation doesn’t really matter.  It is that singular sentence that has stayed with me and that I keep replaying in my mind.

The truth is that my parents gave me plenty. I can give you a list a mile long of the things that I didn’t have growing up – a Barbie doll, a new bike, new clothes, and tickets to concerts etc.

My parents and I came here as refugees and they worked tirelessly to put a roof over my head, put good food on the table and provided me with a great education. A lot more than some people have.

But the part that is bothering me about her comment is that it wasn’t actually the material things that I craved.

And even though the context in which she spoke was about money, I think that actually what she was talking about runs much deeper.

Working as hard as they did meant that I barely saw my parents. Don’t get me wrong, their intentions came from a good place and they did what they needed to do for the right reasons.  I know now it is precisely because of them that I do have everything I have.

Upon reflection however, I think the one thing that was missing from all of our lives was time. Time spent together. Time enjoying each other.

And as I go through this excruciating mourning period, all that I want is my mother back.

All that I want is for her to have time with me, with her granddaughter and for herself. My memories of her, the ones I keep going back to, are the ones where we lay on the couch cuddled up together watching TV, laughing and being completely inappropriate, travelling and looking through our photographs.

When my daughter was born, I bought every kind of toy conceivable.  We have so many “things” in our home but she barely touches any of them.

Now, after everything that has happened this year, I realise that not only was I trying to make up for the things I “didn’t have” but also I was trying to buy my way out of feeling guilty about work time versus baby time.

But the toys lie idle and all that she wants is our time.

She wants to sing, she wants us to sit inside her tent together (which is quite comical), she wants to jump on our knees or cuddle up to us; and my goodness does she like to talk.  We can’t understand most of it but even that doesn’t matter as long as we are there experiencing, enjoying, laughing and making memories with her.

Live in the moment

The value of love is so much more than we can measure or pay for.  It seems so simple but as we try and get through our crazy days, pay our bills and keep our heads above water, we can forget to stop and be in the moment with our babies – whatever their age!  And that I think is where you find the real value of love – in that moment.

So, what I’ve learnt about being a mother so far:

  1. Time is the most valuable “thing” you can give your child;
  2. Be generous with your love and affection, even in the most frustrating of moments;
  3. Invest in things they will cherish for their lifetime – take the time to save the drawings they make for you, put their little treasures into a memory box that they can have forever;
  4. Teach them to be kind hearted and generous;
  5. Give them your pride – make sure they know that every success and failure is ok and you’re proud of what they learnt.

My mum’s dogged determination lives in me every day. Her strength, stubbornness and hopefully sense of humour remain with me. (And may I say the stubbornness and humour gene has also found its way into my daughter.)

The greatest lesson that she leaves behind is one of how short life is, and how important it is to spend time together.

Live in the moment.  Take time to experience the now.  Create memories your child will cherish in years to come and most importantly, live a life you won’t regret.

“Life teaches us to make good use of time, while time teaches us the value of life” (Unknown)

  • I love the little one line saying at the end of this. I agree and I often tell friends when they cry that they can’t afford the latest whatever for their kids. When they’re grown up, they won’t remember things, they’ll remember you! So give them some amazing memories


  • I have been thinking about this very thing a lot lately. I completely agree with you. Great words of wisdom, thank you.


  • I loved your story, and it is great that you shared your sadness with us (that is a healing thing in itself) one of the saddest thing is that most of us realise what you did when its too late and we are faced with the situation of losing someone. Time is something that we never have enough of no matter what or how much time we spend with these special people, On thing I truly believe is that you get what you give when it comes to your children. If you spend quality, loving, sharing time with them from when they first arrive, they will have more time for visiting you when they leave home to start their own nest. Parents all have to work, or return to work after having children, but dont do this too soon, treasure the small, innocent, impressionable little life you have created, whether with your partner or not, this little human needs to learn and watch its real family even if only 6 months old. Dont let your child learn from a person who gets paid to look after lots of others children in a crowded or not centre. They are great, wonderful, patient, loving people, (My daughter is one), but your creation needs to be with you. If you are not prepared to be there for them, and do not realise the responsibility required to raise your own little darling, wait until you do. These years are the most amazing and rewarding years of your life and will be in your and your childs hearts forever, and forever is plenty of time.

    • yes thanks for sharing this amazing personal experience. cheers Milena


  • Thank You everyone for your beautiful words! It’s amazing to get all of your feedback.


  • I am at work reading this and it was a massive struggle to keep the tears at bay. This hit me right in the feels. I sometimes worry that my sons father is going to end up with these feelings at the end of his life. I try my hardest to make sure he spends cherished time with our son and not get too stressed about the little things, he is getting better, I still worry though.


  • Time is very special, we do need to take a moment and think about what is important


  • Thank you for sharing and touching people with your thoughtful story.


  • Being present is so important is so many areas of our lives and especially for our children, they rely on us for this, I totally agree the idea of investing your time is essential.


  • Such a beautiful and well written article. So very true. Time is precious and something that passes all too quickly. Thank you.


  • I am literally in tears x


  • what a beautiful article
    thank you for posting that for the mums


  • Thank you Milena, awesome message. I have moments in the afternoons when my 2 year old is following me around the house whilst I try to clean/cook/fold washing/tidy…….. I keep tripping over her and keep saying “you have so many toys…….why don’t you just play with your toys…..” My household chores still need to get done but I really must try to stop and pay attention to this little “helper” who just wants mum.


  • My ugly childhood has haunted me to date in my adult years. I feel though, that as a parent now, my often brutal, physically and emotionally cruel upbringing by my Mother, has helped shape me into the wonderful kind, gentle, patient, loving and considerate Mother that I am today to my young daughter. I did not follow in my Mother’s cruel footsteps, instead, I became the opposite as a person and a Mother. I give everything to my daughter that I was not given by my Mother, including time, patience, love, a feeling of safety instead of fear, and tenderness instead of cruelty and violence. Even though I suffer severe major depression as a result of my Mother’s cruelty, it has shaped me into the kind and loving Mother I am today to my own daughter. And even though my past still haunts me, I am so greatful that I did not follow in her footsteps, and it was all worth it if that is why I turned out to be the kind, gentle and loving Mother I am today to my wonderful and beautiful little girl that I am so lucky to have.


  • Thank you for sharing. I agree that sharing your time is so important. When my son asks for my time, I make a point of stopping and giving it to him. Quite often it might only be a minute or two… not too much to ask. Even when I’m busy, I stop and think that it’s really important to acknowledge what he wants. I’m hopeful my son will grow up with great memories of the times we have spent together as a family.


  • A moving piece but oh so true.

    I hope my kids remember their childhood with fondness.


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