Posted on May 7, 2012
For some reason during my teen years, my mother did a lot of talking. Even though from ages 14 to 18 we were at each other’s throats like barbarians out for blood, we spent an awful lot of time together. Recently, as my pregnancy advances toward that holy day when my kid rips me in two for shits and giggles, my mind has dug up memory after memory and most of them center around my own childhood and my true best friend. My wooden spoon wielding, Ukrainian mother has truly been my best friend. I can’t remember a time where my mother didn’t step up to the plate and deliver. Let me be sentimental for a moment, and then I promise I’ll drop it and move on to the side-splitting humour I am famed and adored for. My mother … it’s difficult to strip her down into a post that packs enough punch to really honour her in a way she deserves. She’s the kind of complex character a talented writer would take years crafting and developing so that when you read the book she would be dynamic and so clear you’d remember her always (she would need a collection of books, say A through Z, right mom?) It feels daunting to attempt an explanation of her when I am merely a writer-to-be much less the artist I just described. Alas, I’ll take a crack at it as I am predisposed to doing a lot of talking myself. Blame genetics.
Everything that embarrassed me as a kid about my mother, now are the legendary stories we tell about her around the dinner table. The stories that make me proud she’s my mom and not yours. Among the more common things like teaching me to stand up for myself, to be independent, to not take shit and how to give it back when necessary, this is a mom who consistently did things that were profoundly kind and to my knowledge pretty damn original. She fostered the imagination in my brother and me with remarkable wit and cleverness. She’d put underwear on her head, throw on a ridiculous accent and cook dinner as Madame Yakimovitchy, a character designed to delight us. I mean, it is possible this lady is bat-shit crazy, but my goodness did we ever revere her and it never even entered our minds how weird it all might be to the outside world. It didn’t matter. My mom made us a happy home. There isn’t a picture of our family where you can’t see how clearly happy we were, and our happiness was all my mom ever worked for. It’s all she works for now.
Now I know you can’t buy happiness but my mom spent money like a drunken sailor – on everyone but herself. She put “a new car” as she would later say, into my brother’s mouth when he needed the Cadillac of dental work, while she drove the same piece of poop car for eighteen years without complaint. She took her devil-mouthed daughter to England when she was nineteen and the exchange rate on the pound was two and a half Canadian dollars, all in an attempt to get me out of my hormone-induced breakdown mode and get to know me as I was then. This is braver than you understand, because at the time I was the perfect carbon copy of Veruca Salt with a Regan MacNeil edge. My mother fixed my car after every car accident, took my brother and I to every stage production, concert or symphony we ever requested, helped both of us out with rent when we moved out and made every family Christmas as decadent as the ones portrayed in the movies. My mother’s strength really has no end, and to this day I can count on one hand the times she broke down and cried. Not much of a crier my mom. How I became one, we blame entirely on my dad but that’s a whole other post.
I can remember saying as a teen, “I’ll never be like my mom and I’m going to raise my kids differently.” What a cracked-out idiotic statement. God, I hate young me! I wonder if my mom ever heard that, if that would have been one of three times I ever saw my mom tear up. It’s all turned ass backward now. Now I sit up at night and wonder if I have a fraction of her strength. Enough strength to do this thing I’ve decided (decided, accidentally made… whatever) to do. I remember my own childhood so fondly because my parents were present and themselves and who knows if I can recreate that. The truth is I’m unprepared for the sacrifices this will take because I simply don’t know what lies ahead. I hope personality traits skip a generation. I want my kids to be like my mother and nothing like me.
My little nasty baby kicks me on a nightly basis now, and at first it really bothered me. I couldn’t sleep, it hurt, it annoyed me … but every time those thoughts flew through my head with curse words attached to them I heard my mother’s voice. Telling me to curb my negativity and to try to see this as a moment in life I’ll never forget it. “It is amazing what our bodies can do, chicky.” Yeah, I hear you mom. You may be four hours away by car, but you never leave my head. It’s a blessing and a curse, dear readers. I hope your mothers haven’t done this to you also. My future son or daughter is an active little tyke and has been so since we met them at our first ultrasound. There it was, this little Mexican jumping bean and I thought, “My god, it is amazing what our bodies can do. Look at what we made.” My eyes travelled over to my husband’s face to find his expression indescribable. Yet, watching him a new feeling within me set in. Perhaps this is how mothers are made after all. It’s when we are looking into the faces of the ones we want to spend the rest of our lives taking care of; the mother in us is born. Just like love, strength evolves and grows. When my baby grabs my hand and looks into my eyes for the first time, maybe I’ll transform into that superhero woman warrior that raised me.