“I’ve got visions of you Michelle!” I used to hear this a lot and to be honest, I had absolutely no idea what my Mother meant by “visions”. The word itself almost had no meaning at all to my 10 year old ears.
I didn’t know it was plural or even what “visions” were.
But having become a mother myself I completely understand what she meant now and to be honest, I don’t know how she actually survived not only my childhood, but my 20’s.
When I was 21 or so, I decided to go to India with my drug-happy boyfriend. Now my mother, bless her, either had no idea about his “goings-on” (another of her favourite sayings) or she never mentioned them. One thing my mother was and still is very good at is “not saying anything”. This can sometimes be extremely helpful as in the case where she “had visions” of me joining a cult in India and never being seen again, or it can be extremely unhelpful like when she didn’t say anything in the cases where even an inckling of parental disapproval might have saved my stubborn ass. Contrary to what my parents would have you believe, I did actually listen to them both to some degree even if I hid it well.
Back to India.
When I went to India in 1991, there were no mobile phones. In fact, any kind of phone was pretty scarce on the ground and you had to go to the post office and wait half a day if you wanted to call anyone. Perhaps I am exaggerating and there were a few phone boxes here and there but they had to be in sight at the exact moment that the pangs of homesickness hit or the alarm bell that my mother hadn’t heard from me in weeks suddenly went off. Mostly, these events were mutually exclusive.
But my mother never complained. She never asked why I didn’t ring her, or that she was at the doctor because of shingles brought on by stress from not having heard from her intrepid daughter for weeks on end. My mother never ever made me feel guilty. “As long as you are alright” is all she would say, perhaps the occasional “I was beginning to get worried” as she doused her eyes in lashings of anti-shingle cream.
So she must have sat alone, at home, with her “visions”. Visions of her daughter in India, being drawn into a cave to meet the guru, sitting around a fire having grown footlong dreadlocks, smoking hashish and falling into the arms of the cult-leader, never to be seen or heard of again. I didn’t get dreadlocks (yet) OR fall into the arms of any cult-leaders… “Visions” of her University daughter being carried off cross-legged from a protest. This actually wasn’t far from the truth but in actual fact around that time, it was more like being chased down the streets of London with police on horseback beating people with batons who were protesting the Criminal Justice Bill. They passed the bill anyway (yo democracy).
But she never said anything. I know she was thinking it and having “visions”.
These days, as a Mother, I’m starting to understand what “visions” means myself. I’m not as much as a catastrophiser as I believe my Mother was and perhaps still is. I think she may have calmed down now that I am starting to get grey hair and am pushing 50. I think I have survived enough madness and shown enough resourcefulness to her, that she now trusts I’m going to be OK although I think she still gets shingles on occasion…
“I can’t look, I’ve got visions!” – Me mum.