In honour of Mother’s Day, this crisp autumn morn, I’d like to introduce you to my mother. Everyone thinks their mother is special but my mother is nothing short of extraordinary. I love my mother to pieces, there is nothing that I could ever do or say that would come close to expressing to her, or the world, exactly how much I love her, care about her and how much she means to me. Despite my obvious and inexplicable adoration you would probably be surprised to know that my mum and I get along best when we aren’t under each others feet. Our relationship likes a bit of distance, a bit of breathing space- it’s really picked up in the time that I have been living away from home.
We are both very opinionated people, which is fine, but neither of us have learnt particularly well how to censor our opinions, especially in the company of each other. We are both pretty good at censoring our opinions in public and around people who aren’t family, but I think the comfortable shell of our mother-daughter relationship breeds an environment where true self-expression can be made without the fear of irreparable damage being done to the relationship- it’s not that flimsy a tether. Don’t get me wrong, though- we have had
some many arguments that would curl your toes but I think at the end of the day we understand that our love for each other is far, far greater than any disagreement we may have.
My mother is a self-professed perfectionist, it drives me ABSOLUTELY batty! She will obsessively re-write something that has already been written at work by someone else purely because it just isn’t as good as what she would do, so we have to do it all over again. Most time delegation isn’t an option at all. My mother cannot sit still for more than 5 minutes if she knows that there is something that needs to be done. AND, here’s the really funny part, even if everything is done she will find work to do, you know, idle hands and all. So it will come as no great surprise when I tell you that I also drive her batty with my people focused, touchy-feely approach to everything I do. I am a dreamer, I am not very task oriented and near enough is good enough for me. But I think that I have worked very hard NOT to turn into a perfectionist. There was a time in my life where every single thing had to be perfect and although I still cling to my routines as a sort of safety blanket that’s about as far as it goes. When I catch myself down on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor by hand because the mop didn’t do a good enough job, I tend to want to slap myself to snap my self out of it. So I do understand my mother’s perfectionism, I understand it is easy to succumb to but, for my life, I feel it is more of a burden. But, again, I think that is more because of my ‘dreamer’ personality type.. I mean, who ever heard of a perfectionistic dreamer!? Chalk and cheese, man… chalk and cheese!
The older I get the more I seem to be able to see inside my mum. I think she puts up a tough facade as a defense mechanism, and to a child that can be quite confusing, so I never really used to ‘get’ my mum when I was little but I did love her all the same. Now that I am an adult, and I think the aforementioned distance has something to do with it, I am discovering things about my mum that feel so unlike her but, upon closer examination, have always been a big part of her heart and soul. I am constantly amazed by the things that seem to touch her and really impact on her life, the things she takes on board. I always felt that my touchy-feely-ism annoyed her and made her feel uncomfortable, and it does when it means I am telling her that I love her at random intervals throughout the day, but I don’t think it is as annoying as I first thought it was. I’m starting to understand that just because my mother is 3o odd years older than me, doesn’t necessarily mean that all areas of her personal growth have bloomed, some are still only budding, and that’s just our different experiences in life. I am blessed to have this woman as my mother, because of her I was able to focus on the growth of my heart and soul as a child. I am nowhere near as street smart as her, but I’ll get there, maybe when I am in my 50’s and have grandchildren of my own, but I’ll get there. What I am trying to say is, it’s nice to be growing ‘our’ heart and soul together, it gives me a conectedness to my mother that is priceless. There are some quotes that my mother tells me she likes from the Dalai Lama that make me inwardly say, “Wow! I never thought that would touch you like it has!” and it is beautiful to witness.
Mum likes to be alone. She can stand that deafening silence that ensues and she likes her own company. I can’t stand it. I love to be around people, though not too many, too many and I start to suffer panic attacks. I love having someone to talk to, mum is always commenting that I talk too much. You can see the exhaustion in her face when we finish a conversation and she has hardly said two words. But I think my mum likes it a little more than she lets on. I think secretly mum likes knowing that I like talking to her, that I feel comfortable talking to her. Plus, it gives her a chance to drink more coffee!
My mother and I, despite out obvious differences do share a lot of commonalities as well, one of them is that we cry at the drop of a hat. All you have to do to make us cry is show us a sick cat or put Oprah on and we will consume several boxes of Kleenex. We are hopeless. My sister often pokes fun at us because we’ll be watching a movie, one that we may have seen before, and she’ll turn around and here is mum and I, sobbing like babies. I think this stems from the fact that we both like to stick up for the underdog, the little guy, the one that is being trodden on by the big shots, the heartless cowards. We can see beauty in things that some people don’t. My mum has a heart that is far too big for her body. My mum does an absolutely, beyond words, s.t.e.l.l.a.r job as the director of operations at an aged care facility. She has been teary on a number of occasions when a resident has suffered an injustice, it fires her up and God help anyone who was a part of that injustice because you are going down! I am so proud of my mum. She stands up for what she believes in and gives her heart and soul, and more!, to those who are in need. I am so glad that my mum did such a good job of teaching my sister and I about the importance of justice and standing up for what you believe in.
Being a mother myself now means I have a lot of those dang-blasted “a-ha” moments. There are times where I am saying to myself, “Damn, mum was right!” She’ll know now, but I don’t tell her at the time. There are times where I am with my daughter and I will say something and I have to look over my shoulder to check that my mother isn’t in the room with us because it seriously just sounded like she was. Things like, “What part of ‘No’ is hard to understand?” and “How many times…” Oh, so cringe-worthy! At least I can be comforted in the knowledge that when I was little mum had those same cringe-worthy moments herself. Mum is my best ally in my life as a single parent. She offers awesome advice and encouragement and, she’ll hate to admit it, so much understanding, so many ‘been there done that’ perspective. I don’t always take it, but I always hear it. There are moments in my life as a parent where I am absolutely, truly, sorry for all the crap I gave my mother. I understand how draining it was to sit through a meal with an over-tired child. I understand what a day with a child who doesn’t remember any other word in her extensive vocabulary other than “No”. I am sure my mum laughs at me sometimes, not AT me, but at the cycle of motherhood. It will be humourous to me too, when it is my child!
I could go on telling you how amazing my mum is, I could write a book about all the things she has taught me and done for me, I could tell you about all the times where we wouldn’t speak to each other for weeks verbally but you could see that we were crying out to each other inside. I used to crave a simple mother-daughter relationship, like you see in the movies. The kind of relationship where you just get along with your mother like it is natural, but the older I get the easier it is to see that I have been blessed, truly, truly, blessed to have the relationship I do with my mother. The complexity of our relationship, I think, makes us tighter and richer than if we had the type of relationship I used to crave. There is nothing about my mother that I would change. She is perfect. She is love. She is beauty. She is intelligence. She is justice. She is strength. She is friendship. She is MY mum. And I love her more than life.
Happy Mother’s Day Mum.