I’ve posted about my Dad a few times here on this blog (you can catch up here and here). It’s because he’s easy to write about. He’s weird and quirky and the material just writes itself. But my Mom, she’s a different story. She’s quiet and nice and prefers to work “behind the scenes,” while Dad prefers being centre stage, or at least the welcoming committee. And as far as I’m concerned, she’s gotten off too easy when it comes to this blog. I haven’t really written much about her except for the odd reference to my childhood (of which she was certainly my favorite teacher), where she taught me some sort of skill or lesson. So because Mother’s Day is this weekend, today’s post is dedicated to her – hi Mom!
And she has taught me a lot. Good thing, because without her, I would undoubtedly be traveling with some sort of circus right now, or living in an artist’s commune philosophizing life. (*Note – there is nothing wrong with these professions, in fact, they interest me deeply and I often think that, in my next life, should I be lucky enough to have one, I would like to try one of these or something similar. I just don’t think I would be able to afford my minivan payments on that salary. No offence intended to anyone who lives these lifestyles. On the contrary, I’m kind of jealous of you.)
Anyway… where were we?
Where would I be without my mother? Right. My mother is the kind of mother I wish everyone had. And she is also the type of mother I should be lucky enough to become (although I still need more training). She is the kind of mother who bakes cookies and delivers them to our house – just because. And she doesn’t make it a big deal when we mess up or do stupid things (even if we do them both at the same time). She washes, folds, and delivers our clothes when we leave them behind, and always picks up an extra something at the grocery store, just because “it was on sale.” She’s awesome.
But she’s not perfect. In fact, over the years, her idiosyncrasies have created much fodder and humour for my brother and I (and Dad too – he has to be a little more careful though), that we like to recant at appropriate times, like when the first snowflake of the season falls: “OMG, be careful driving, call me when you get home, OMG it’s SNOWING, don’t forget to CALL ME!!!” Or when we were kids and would drive into the city: “We’re in the city now kids – QUICK, lock your doors!!” as if there’s an invisible line that carjackers and kidnappers can’t cross between the city and the country.
And it’s funny, because even though I have a lot of my father’s personality traits, I didn’t realize that I have a lot of my mother’s too. I noticed it recently when I was sweeping the kitchen floor, and Griffin ran into the kitchen. I didn’t even look up before I let loose with a “DON’T STEP IN MY DIRT PILE!” (as if my world would come crashing down if I would had to repeat those four minutes of sweeping again). I stopped and said a little “Holy crap, I just sounded SO much like my mother there,” under my breath. It scared me a little, because I always considered myself little more than a slightly domesticated frat boy masquerading as a mother when it comes to my housekeeping skills. Not like the mini Martha Stewart-esque woman I call my own mother. Apparently, I’m not giving myself enough credit because I was particulary protective of that little (ok, big) dirt pile.
Growing up, our house was always super clean. Mom taught me how to do everything, from how to make a bed properly to cleaning a bathroom efficiently, to turning off the TV before you spray it with cleaner so you don’t get a big shock (is this true? Because if it isn’t, Mom’s theories of electrocution have just gone out the window). Unfortunately, I don’t employ these cleaning technique as often as I could these days, but the point is that I remember them. One of the best things she taught me in the kitchen was how to make icing for cakes and cookies. Obviously, I can’t bake to save my life, but I make a mean buttercream frosting. Isn’t it funny how certain things stick with you 😉
In all seriousness though, I need to tell you some of the great things about my Mom, because, a) I know it will embarass her, and b) She deserves the recognition. My Mom, like all mothers, are the cogs that keep the wheels turning at home. Dads are doing a good job at catching up, but they have a LOT of years to make up for 🙂 Mothers make sure the lunches get packed in the morning, that permission slips are returned, that everyone knows where they’re going, and when, and what they’re supposed to bring with them. They are the air traffic controllers of the home, and my mom was one of the best. She never missed one soccer game, dance recital, piano lesson, baseball practice, swimming lesson, track meet or fashion show (yup, I said fashion show). She force fed us breakfast when we were in high school, even when we didn’t want it, because that’s the right thing to do. She fed our friends and let them stay overnight, even though I know we were a pain in the ass. She made us save up half the money for our Chip & Pepper t-shirts and Silver jeans because she refused to pay that much for (ridiculous-looking) clothes, but she also knew how important they were to us. She sacrificed things for herself so we could have braces, glasses and perms (just me for the perm, not Greg. And I do totally wish she wouldn’t have let me have all those things at the same time, but like I said, she’s not perfect). She drove us everywhere. And because we lived in the back woods of nowhere, there was a LOT of driving. I think I’m going to have to start giving Mom gift cards to gas stations as birthday presents to make up for it, because I can only imagine how much money was spent on gas. Gymnastics, swimming, piano, soccer, baseball, hockey, ringette, volleyball, track and field, band, badminton; you name it, we were into it. And mom was the chauffeur. And she drove our friends too 🙂
I was fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by strong women. What a gift for a little girl. I grew up without barriers, believing that I could do anything – even boy stuff! I really believed that. I played any sport I wanted, rode my bike with the boys and played in the dirt. That’s just the way it was. Whether it was intentional or not, my life was neither pink nor blue, it was rainbow colored, and I attribute this to my mother and the other female role models in my life. The women in my life are strong-willed, hard-working, dependable women. The love like crazy and they care about people. They don’t care if you are a boy or a girl or an alien. They are compassionate and kind and funny people, and I am so happy to have acquired their DNA.
When I think about the fact that I do not, and will not, have a daughter to pass these traits on to, I’m not sad about it. And trust me, I’ve put a lot of thought into this. I’m not sad about it because I’ve decided to dedicate my (parenting) life to building my boys into men that are respectful, loving, kind, interesting and nurturing people. They will learn how to pack the lunches, sign the permission slips, and get everyone to where they need to be. They will learn how to clean the house and make icing. They will be caring partners and compassionate fathers. They will be hard working and dependable and they will love like crazy. This is my job as a parent, and I know I will be good at it because my Mom taught me how. It doesn’t matter if they are boys or girls, when they are older, no one will care. But it does matter if they are nice people and I’m going to make sure they are.
My mom made a committment almost 35 years ago to look after her family, and she has never waivered. I’m going to do the same with my family. And if I have any questions, I know she’ll be there to answer them for me, rain or shine. That is unconditional love.
Happy Mother’s Day to my mother and all the beautiful mothers out there. You work hard and you deserve all the love that comes your way this weekend.