Monday, 28 October 2013

The day I realized...I have become my mother

You remember them from when you were a kid. Those phrases you heard, sometimes ad nauseam, whenever you and/or your siblings were acting up. They haunt your memory, ring in your ears even when you're on your own, but somehow they feel comforting and familiar. "Stop right now or you can go to your room"..."Don't you talk back to me"..."Why can't you two get along for more than two seconds"..."The both of you..." If you have children, particularly children who have entered the stage of life where siblings bicker with each other non-stop (basically any time after age four), I'm positive at least one of those lovely sentences has escaped your mouth. I am not ashamed to admit that I have used all of the above and then some more than once with my children. But it was that last one, spoken unwittingly just a week ago, that made me realize that it has officially happened. After years of eye rolling, back talking and outright ignoring, I have become my mother.

I guess I always knew this day would come. In fact, there have been times over the last seven years when I know I have said or done things I recall my own mother doing when I was a child, but I don't think I had fully accepted it until now. Maybe I was delusional, insisting that I would be different. Now that it has happened, though, I can say without hesitation that becoming my mother was inevitable. Not because we're doomed to repeat our parents' mistakes, but because I learned from the best!

My childhood was not different than most in the 1980's. My dad worked long days while my mom stayed home with us, while intermittently working various full-time jobs. But for the most part, she was the one who cooked and cleaned for us, took care of us when we were sick, and nurtured us. Not to diminish my dad's important influence in my life, but becoming my dad is a whole other topic. It was mom who was also around to break up the arguments between me and my two siblings, deal out and enforce punishments, and make sure we appreciated the food in front of us. During my childhood, there were many times I felt my mom was the worst, but in the end, she really wasn't, and only wanted, and still wants, the best for her children.

So now we come full circle, and here I am with two kids of my own. I could never explain this to them, but as awful as they think I am at times, I'm only looking out for them. My mom taught me throughout my childhood that by not letting me have my own way, I learned to accept defeat when it came, and to work as hard as I could to achieve my dreams and desires. By allowing me the freedom to explore, she enabled a curiosity in me that has kept me wanting to learn more, even to this day. That freedom also gave me the confidence to navigate through the cities where I have lived safely and without fear. By caring for my injuries but not coddling me, she taught me to pick myself up, be strong, and not let cuts, scrapes and bruises, both internal and external, hold me back. Most importantly though, by being the mother she was and continues to be, I am the mother I am today.

Becoming our mothers is a testament to the women that raised us, fed us, taught us right from wrong, and eventually set us free to become the women we are meant to be. Sure, every generation learns from the previous one and tries to improve on what we remember from our youth, but it's really just adapting on the principles that were instilled in us by the people that brought us into this world, who were patient, thoughtful and willing to help make us the best we could be. So while I will still joke to my husband every time I say something to my kids and hear my mother speaking those same words back at me, in that humour I will find comfort. I hope, too, that my own children will take my sometime harsh phrases and lessons and one day realize when they have kids of their own, that mom wasn't so bad after all. She just loved me enough make sure I grew up strong, confident, mindful and more than a little adventurous.
From left to right: Dad, Me, Mom and Coralie

No comments:

Post a Comment