motherhood & the art of unconditional love
I haven't had the pleasure of being a mom. Yet. But given the role model I've had in my life who was pretty awesome, it shouldn't be that hard, right?
Sure, my mom made everything look easy. As a young girl, I didn't think about the day-to-day sacrifices she put before my brother and I. The moments of anxiety I'm sure she had where she questioned every thing she did and wondered if it was the right decision or if it would scar her kids forever. Doing the right thing, even when she wondered if its really the right thing. But really, is it the right thing!? Oh the perils of motherhood!
I grew up in what I believe to be, the best environment ever. Both my parents came from great homes but no matter what, they always strived to make their children's lives even better. Offering both my brother and I opportunities that they never had the chance to experience. My father always said, "if I can afford to put both my kids through university, then I will. Starting life out in debt is not a great position to be in". My father was by far the practical one in the relationship. He still is and I admire him for that. He was the one I had the closest relationship with, maybe because I was his daughter. His Blue Eyes. I could do no wrong in his mind. I really did have him wrapped around my finger.
My mother on the other hand, was a relationship I've had to work at my whole life. She was the one I butted heads with the most (and still do on occasion). To say our relationship was fiery would be an understatement. She pressed my buttons and I definitely pressed her's. As a kid, I was disobedient and had a harder time listening to her and I still don't know why. She was always wrong and I was always right. Boy, did I ever get that wrong.
Now as a 38 year old woman who has had a few years to reflect back on my past annoyances, and bratface ways, I've slowly come to realize that I was completely wrong (yes, I'm admitting I was wrong!). My mother has always been quite the pillar of strength. She's the queen of multi-tasking. The woman who could simultaneously bake pies at 6am, prep for Sunday turkey dinner, work a 12 hour shift in the ER, stitch up our wounds, drop us off and pick us up from practice, get us off to school in the morning, make our lunches and do our laundry. Yes we were spoiled. Very, very spoiled. And yes, my mom is pretty amazing. (This is where the I told ya so comes in....had I been wise enough as a child to recognize and appreciate this, I'd feel a lot better about myself!).
But the one thing I think I admired the most about my mother is that she always wanted to make her own money, no matter what. She didn't want to buy my father birthday gifts knowing it was his money. See, we moved around a lot following my fathers thriving career. He was the breadwinner I guess you would say, and when job opportunities came up for him, my mom was ok following him. From YYZ > YYT > YYZ > VVR. She could have easily been a full-time, stay at home mom. But instead, my father knew how much she loved being a nurse and honoured that. This allowed her to work flexible hours, bring in her own pay cheque, work at her life long passion and still be a mother who was very present in her kids day-to-day. We never had nannies, and when my mother was working, my dad would pick up the slack and vice versa. My dad saw my mother working as a life insurance policy: he knew that if anything happened to him, that my mother was ok and she could earn a living. Now THAT is true love and a sense of what a partnership should be like.
As I look back at it now, my mother was a modern day super woman who did it all. Truly did it all and I'm so appreciative of that. Now that I'm older and (hopefully) wiser, I see that I am a lot like her. Similar qualities and personality traits are all starting to show their colours. This really is a tough act to follow, not to mention live up to.
What I do know for sure is that my brother and I ended up as pretty good people, contributing to the world and our families the best we know how; taking the lessons our parents taught us and applying them to life - through all the years when WE didn't know if it was the right thing. Our parents have showed us unconditional love through all the ups and downs. The good, the bad, the ugly things we've put them through. The difficult transitions of our lives, even when they didn't know where and if we'd land on our feet. We tested them, we put them through hell I'm sure. But they've never once turned their back on us.
And now, well my mom is still baking pies in the wee hours of the morning when she can't sleep. Getting her to retire from her nursing career has proven to be a challenge - she just won't give it up. But it makes her happy and I guess we have to be ok with that. And now she's passed on her nurturing ways and unconditional love to her grandchildren, who are lucky to have her in their lives.
Happy Mother's Day Mom.