Ding dong! The side doorbell rang at precisely 9 am on this summer morning. My mother said it was impolite to go to friends’ houses before that time and everybody followed that rule.
That particular summer, mom had decided that my sister and I were old enough to handle sewing needles and scissors on our own and undertook to teach us and the neighbourhood girls how to sew.
Our backyard was a popular place that summer as she spent countless hours instructing us on her techniques and we made clothes for our dolls. Such was my mother, always involved, and always enthusiastic about projects and spending time with her girls.
Growing up, our home was a happy one because my mother was a joyful bubbly person. Every morning, no matter how early, I woke to her singing while she was dusting or running the dry mop over the floors. By the time we were up, the house was clean and she was ready to give us her time.
Optimistic, loving, always in a good mood, a super housekeeper with a perfect routine she was able to stick to no matter what, her energy seemed boundless. Our house was always in order and “spic and span”.
Over the years, she built a perfect nest of love and comfort, where we could always talk while feeling listened to and safe. I loved her with all my heart even if at one point, I revolted against her agreeable disposition and what I perceived as weakness. I didn’t like the way she would shy away from any argument, preferring to keep peace with everyone.
But it was hard to stay upset with someone who would give you everything and accept everything you did.
Today, I feel very privileged to have grown up in this loving atmosphere even if, at the time, I was taking it for granted.
Growing up, I never wanted to be like my mother, rejecting her lifestyle, her devotion to my father, her obsession with cleanliness and order.
But once my children entered my life, everything changed and without realising it, I tried to be exactly like her.
After all, “Wasn’t she perfect?” I thought. I really admired her apparent happiness and her acceptance of whom she was as a person and who we were!
I tried to be perfect for my children, like I thought she had been with us.
But no matter my efforts, I never felt quite as good as her. For one, I went back to work after my first child, something she would never have done. Forty years ago, this meant I wanted to be at home when I was at work and at work when I was at home, guilt and anxiety overwhelming me.
And I could not keep up the house the way she did. I had no interest in baking pies and cakes, even though I thought I should. I was not able to feel and stay joyous, sing while I cleaned, smile all the time, more guilty feelings. I wanted to be perfect for my family but knew I wasn’t.
As mothers, our happiness and sense of accomplishment are often closely linked to our perception of how perfect or imperfect our mothers were. We want to emulate the good and not repeat the mistakes. As a young mother, my aim was to become my mother in the eyes of my children and my failure to attain this goal left me feeling inadequate and depressed.
I refused to consider that I was different. This feeling stayed with me for many years, probably affecting how I treated my own children and influencing how they perceived me while growing up.
My mother, even though she continuously enveloped us with love, did not share a lot of her deeper self with us. It was always about others for her, her generosity limitless.
Still today, close to 40 years after her death, I miss my mother, her unconditional love, wisdom, optimism, reliability and her voice. She still influences my decisions.
As Oscar Wilde once remarked,
“All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.”
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL THE MOTHERS OUT THERE!
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