Glad that my apple fell near this tree

NS May 10th, 2010

I know (US) Mother’s Day was yesterday but procrastination, as my own mother would tell you, runs in our family. Things that also run in our family: fat knees, night owl tendencies,  long goodbyes, a love of bourbon and laughing at the annual Christmas party until sides are clutched, bladders threaten to burst and asthma inhalers are needed.

Like most teenagers, I swore I’d never become my mother. Our relationship always remained largely amicable and intact but we fought like cats and dogs for many years, mainly because we were so alike in personality and spirit. I see it now in my own daughter, the similarities that will make our future relationship tumultuous. One day, probably in about nine years, she will hate me. If I’m lucky, she’ll just be embarrassed by me. If things go like they did for me and my mom, she will do both in small doses but come back to me, back to a place of love and respect, once those rocky, hormone-fuelled, independence-driven days wane as the maturity level grows.

And I know that when I call my mom to mull all this over, angry and sad and confused over my changed status and mourning the little girl lost to me, she will understand perfectly and yearn to wrap her arms around the phone, around me, and provide comfort. She won’t say ‘I told you so’; she won’t tell me I’m blowing it out of proportion. She’ll remember how much it hurt and think not of what I inflicted on her but how she can make my hurt better. Because that’s what mothers do.

I want to tell you more about her, my mom. In thinking about what a hero and inspiration she’s been to me, I tried to come up with some less-sappy and clichéd synonyms because those kinds of euphemisms are meaningless, overused and not at all my style. And the great thing about my mom? She would not only understand but completely agree. So instead of telling you in minute detail how strong she is or how she shaped me, I’ll just share a few glimpses into what kind of person she is.

  • Never afraid of getting her hands dirty or of physical labour, she drove a forklift at a factory when she was eight months pregnant with me. She can also move a sofa or bed in or out of a house, on her own, literally on her back. Her brute strength and pivoting skills are unmatched
  • My mom is the McGyver of the crafting world. Give her a bit of cardboard, a scrap of fabric, a safety pin and a magic marker and she can make a superhero outfit, an exact replica of an ancient Egyptian funeral pyre or a Native American headdress
  • She never gives up on her dreams, no matter how long it takes to achieve them or how slowly she progresses. I know that before she dies she will have put on paper the book that’s already inscribed in her mind, have taken those glass-blowing and language classes she’s talked about for years and have travelled to many of the places she dreams of seeing. My biggest dream is to be able to, one day, help her achieve at least one of these
  • She is the most honest, hard-working, ethical person I know. This is a woman who would not take even ten minutes over her allotted lunch break without docking it from her own pay. And she does the payroll! As a result, I am utterly incapable of cheating at games or not saying anything when given incorrect change that would be to my advantage
  • If caffeine were made illegal today, my mother would be in jail tomorrow for trying to procure a coffee or cola on the black market. This is the only thing for which I can envision her breaking the law
  • She is an unashamed backseat driver of the most extreme proportions. I’m not talking about little arguments over map-reading skills or a bit of bickering about speeding, I’m talking about being surprised she hasn’t actually shoved my dad out of the driver’s seat of a moving car and taken the wheel herself. My dad affectionately refers to her as The Nagigator
  • Her dedication to tirelessly advocating and caring for everyone in our family who has ever been terminally ill (including her own daughter, father, mother, grandmother, brother and father-in-law) leaves me speechless with awe. The kindness and respect she showed to the most socially awkward, mentally unstable and physically unwell or disabled people she dealt with on a daily basis in her former job, one she held for nearly 20 years, had a huge impact on me and my views towards fairness, equality and the importance of humanity
  • As a busy working mom when we were growing up, she often cleaned at night instead of sleeping, when the mess got to be too much. I would wake up in the morning to a tidied room, vacuumed carpet and new sheets on my bed, all done right under my nose while I slept. It was like magic. Mary Poppins and her spoonful of sugar crap had nothing on my mom
  • The holidays were never complete until she’d uttered the words, “Merry fucking Christmas” before slamming a door
  • She always apologised afterwards and we always forgave her because we knew how hard she worked and how much she did for us, even when she didn’t

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

9 Responses to “Glad that my apple fell near this tree”

  1. geekymummy says:

    She sounds amazing, what a lovely tribute to her. She must miss you a lot, and you her. Being so far away from family is hard.
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  2. Gappy says:

    I am raising a glass to your mother right now…(not literally – it’s 8.30 in the morning) and suspecting that she would probably get on rather well with my own.
    Gappy´s last blog .. My ComLuv Profile

  3. She sounds fabulous – well done – I get on with my Mum ok and think she did many things well with us as small children but we are as different as chalk and cheese – she is the High Priestess Of Doom whilst I am the worlds greatest optimist in the face of overwhelming evidence that I shouldn’t be – one call from my Mum and the world goes dark for a bit. I hope my daughter and I muddle along as she gets bigger. Congrats xx
    Belgravia Wife´s last blog ..They Say The Romance Goes…… My ComLuv Profile

  4. Sandrine says:

    oh good, I’m glad you forgave her. It gives me hope that my two will forgive me for the countless times I lost with them.
    Sandrine´s last blog ..What do you do when your only bar closes down? My ComLuv Profile

  5. andrea says:

    what a perfect tribute to mom and how true. i’m sure there were times when we were growing up when she wanted to choke us and asked herself if there would ever be a time when she could be more than our mother and truly be a friend. i’m glad that time has arrived.
    andrea´s last blog army who? My ComLuv Profile

  6. Lyn says:

    Thank you for this lovely Mother’s Day gift. I too am glad that we all survived each other and can look back with an understanding that love outlasts every angry word and fallen tear. My greatest joy is seeing the wonderful, strong, caring women you and your sister have become, because and in spite of me. I love you both.

  7. Iota says:

    Thanks for this. I loved reading it.
    Iota´s last blog ..Mother’s Day My ComLuv Profile

  8. Luschka says:

    Oh wow – I loved your post, it was a beautiful tribute, but your mom’s reply actually made me cry. That’s stunning.
    Luschka´s last blog ..Just Have to Share – Gravlax – Norwegian Salmon My ComLuv Profile

  9. blues says:

    I loved this. Such a great post.

    And I’m so passing on the Nagigator to my stepdad to use against my mom. It will give him loads of laughs.

    And this one: “The holidays were never complete until she’d uttered the words, “Merry fucking Christmas” before slamming a door.”. Yup, this pretty much sums up Christmas day at my house.
    blues´s last blog ..Stepdad My ComLuv Profile