Archive for the tag 'mother’s day'

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.

A mother on paper

NS March 12th, 2010

She came home, draped in her grandfather’s arms, delivered like a bouquet of roses to my door. Her heavy lidded eyes saw me and her lips smiled, almost imperceptibly. I laid her on the sofa, removed her shoes and coat, smoothed her hair from her forehead and watched her forefinger rhythmically stroke her upper lip as she sucked her thumb.

I closed the door and my heart swelled, glad for her to be back in the warmth of my mother bear’s den. I sat down beside her. She put her head in my lap. Looking down at her face, I marvelled at her beauty and absolute perfection. I gazed for a long time at her ivory cheek, then the pores, then the blood and tissue and bones beneath. Beyond that, the cells, the tiny living particles of life that, together, made her. From my body and his. We made her.

That never stops blowing my mind.

I scoop her up, put her to bed (dress and all, at her insistence) and turn out the light. Downstairs, I begin to tidy up the things she brought home from school and her grandparents’ house. I see three yellow daffodils, tied together with iridescent ribbon, on top of two cards. One is white and depicts a human-like figure with blue construction paper legs, yellow arms, a green body and long red hair. Above it is scrawled ‘Happy Mother’s Day!’ Inside, she has attempted to write her name, though only two of the letters are discernible as such. The figure on the card is smiling. My fears that she thinks of me as a brooding, cross, shouty demon are allayed for now.

The other card is red and circular and, in a teacher’s hand, tells me ‘I love my mum because…’ with her answer dictated and written below. It says:

“She is a very special mummy because she does everything by herself.”

I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad, whether to laugh or cry, so I do a bit of both. Hand over mouth, alone in the dining room, a silent, anguished, joyful tear slides down my cheek. I press the daffodils to my chest and look at the grinning face of my daughter’s imagining. At a time in my life when I feel that everything is changing and anything is possible, an assertion of independence is just what I needed to hear that. That someone has complete confidence in me, even when I don’t; that someone remembers my smiles when all I dwell on are my flaws — that’s more valuable than any gift from a shop she could ever give me.