In my mind my mother has always looked the same and been the same age. Sometimes my siblings and I, while looking at family pictures, would comment on how everyone used to look the same, have the same kind of outfits, the same hairstyle.
My mom was ageless; when she told us stories of her childhood, I pictured her a grown up, playing teacher with the trees, or singing the songs she made up for her father. She could not have been a little girl like me or my sister; even looking at the very few pictures of hers, we couldn’t believe she hadn’t been a mother forever.
She was one of those mean moms; she didn’t let me wear make-up until I was sixteen, and I begged her to let me at least wear lip gloss for a high school dance. When my aunt came to visit us and painted my nails, my mom would make me take it all off once my aunt left the house. She hated my boyfriends, and could see, hear, smell, and perceive every tiny thing any of us four kids were trying to hide from her.
She was so strict even today I see her face on my mind before I take an important decision, and I consider how she will react to what I do. Sometimes I rebel against my instincts to please her, but subconsciously, I hear her voice in my head repeating her endless advise: “Remember who your are,” “I don’t care what the others do,” “I know you can do it.”
Now that I am a mother of four myself, I wonder constantly how she did every thing so well. She cleaned the house, cooked every day, did laundry (by hand, mind you!) and ironed every single article of clothing we owned, knitted and sewed our clothes too, and went everywhere with the four of us attached to her. She has never driven, so we’d all go on the bus to school and church. When I ask her how she did it, she always answers, “You were all very good children, and the angels helped me.”
I look at pictures of hers now, and she looks the same to me, but when I was born she was only nineteen years old. Sometimes I remember her singing and her laughter, and I hope she enjoyed the years she was a young mother, even though they must have been so hard for her.
My mother and I are friends. Like all friends, we have our good and bad moments, but unlike many friendships, she’s the one person who knows things about me I don’t even know. The success I have had in my life is a consequence of the principles she taught me. I am my own self; I’ve done things by myself too, but without her support and direction, I might not have achieved much.
It’s very funny to see my mom as a grandmother now; she buys make-up sets for my little daughters, and spoils my boys rotten. She’s always saying I’m too hard on the kids, and I look at her in unbelief. The woman has forgotten how she used to be. But she has another role now; she can enjoy these little kids who adore her because at the end of the day, she can have all the time in the world to read or do her embroidery. The kids go back home with me. I’m sure she loves that.
When I was little and I complained about something she did, she used to say, “You’ll understand when you have your own children,” and of course she was right. I call her sometimes to tell her the things these kids do to me, and she listens and laughs. To her it is all so funny! The little challenges I have are a paradise to her because now she has adult children to worry about. And yes, she worries all the time; this mothering thing never ends, never gives you a break.
On this mother’s day, I want to say thanks for all the things I never saw; I never noticed.
I look at my mom and she’s still ageless, not a grandmother. I hope I show her my love everyday, as when I was little. Sometimes I go to her house, and even though it is not the place where I grew up, she’s there. And that’s home, one of them. In one home I am the mother, the fixer of things, the doctor, teacher, judge, playmate and friend. In the other one, I am her daughter; she can take charge of things there, and even my kids know it. When at her house, all the rules go out the window; and they love every second of it. She didn’t have a mother as an adult. I feel so fortunate that I do, that even though I am a mother, I can still be a daughter and have her to support me and love me. As I love my children above all other people, she loves me; I can’t thank the Lord enough for that.
Sunday, 10 May 2009