Volcano Child - A YA Novel in Progress by Candy Gourlay
Two weeks ago, Mouse decided to dig his way to London.

20 December 2006

Spare a Thought for the Virtual Mother

She took me into her arms like I was a baby. But the night was hot; you could light a fire where my skin touched hers and I wriggled in her embrace.

"Stop, Mother," I whined, my elbows digging away at soft places. "It’s too hot."

Mother laughed softly, laid her cheek gently against mine, and then quietly left.

When I woke up in the morning, she was gone.

Excerpt from Volcano Child

Following is an article I wrote for a mothering newsletter in 2002. Since I wrote this piece, my friend Frances Luna featured in the Radio 4 programme Motherless Nation, which I wrote and presented. In the original I did not use Frances' real name.

'Tis the season for demented shopping sprees, unmitigated parental blackmail and appalling infantile greed. It’s Christmas, here we go again.

But instead of indulging in the traditional yuletide whinge, let me tell you a story.

Poverty and abandonment by a philandering husband drove my friend Frances to seek work overseas as a cleaner. It was the only way she could support her seven kids.

Virtual Mothering: Frances views a photo of her youngest child who grew up without her

Early each morning before scrubbing her first toilet in North London, Frances pops into the local supermarket in search of bargains. A bottle of Nescafe Gold Blend, a tube of Colgate, a tin of baked beans. At the end of every month, she ships her little hoard of groceries to her kids in the Philippines.

"Why don’t you just send them the money?" I ask her. "These things are cheaper in the Philippines."

"This way," she retorts fiercely, "I feel like I’m really looking after them."

Frances is mothering her children the best way she can from across several oceans. She is a virtual mother.

This Christmas, spare a thought for thousands of virtual mothers like Frances. It turns complaining about Christmas excess into just another unnecessary luxury.

Frances has been working as my cleaner since 1994. She left the Philippines to work as a maid in 1988. Her youngest child was a baby, her oldest was 12. She didn't see them again until 2001 and yet during that time, she watched my own children grow up. This year, she is spending Christmas with them, five years after her last visit.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Candice said...

So, finally, Frances is going home. That's good to know. Merry Christmas, Candy!

Thursday, 21 December, 2006  
Anonymous Candy said...

I am just so pleased for her. She wasn't been able to sleep for weeks before her departure! Merry Christmas to you too - and i hope Frances is revelling in it at home!

Thursday, 21 December, 2006  
Anonymous candy said...

"wasn't been able" - slip of the keypad or slip of the brain?

Thursday, 21 December, 2006  
Blogger Wilf said...

Happy New Year, Candy! All the best with Volcano Child.
Addy

Wednesday, 03 January, 2007  

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