Archive for May 2013

The Motherlode of Inspiration

May 10, 2013

I’m suffering a roadblock where my due may not be coming. My due time to sleep, my due time to have two coherent thoughts back to back, uninterrupted by tiny hands and persistent munchkin voices, my due time to put on clothes that haven’t been trampled under a hoard of dirty laundry.

It’s eight am and my daughter is not dressed or finished her homework and my son is anxious to start walking to school and my two-year-old is freaking out because his cereal is soggy and he wants a cookie. I take a deep breath and pass out small glasses of orange juice and bowls of oatmeal, make sure they are all wearing clean underwear (the pants and shirts I can’t be sure of). After school my daughter comes home crying because of a fight she’s had with friends and I ask all the diplomatic questions and nod understandingly in all the right places. My son is crying on the stoop because his father, his hero, is not home from work yet and nothing mom can do is quite as magnificent as what he can do.

My next deep breath conjures an image that’s been hovering in my peripheral vision through weeks of sleepless nights with one coughing kid or another, weeks of being one pace behind a clean house or a move made on my job search. This image is one that lives in my heart even with thousands of kilometres between us, and it is of my mother.

Image

A pregnant me celebrating a birthday with my mom.

Mother of composure who can pass on dessert and make me believe that a morning walk is important as sunlight. Mother of compassionate determination in the face of sky-high demands of career and family and self-care. Mother of creativity when it came to birthday parties or PD days, always ready with a cardboard box — aka fort — from an appliance store, scissors and crayons, glue and scrap material. Mother of hilarity, who has this great ability to laugh at herself (she once sent me a copy of her disastrous passport photo in a letter I opened, to my great embarrassment, in front of my friends at camp. But I had to laugh  because I could imagine her chuckling to herself as she sealed the awful picture into an envelope and put it in the mail for me). Mother of a remarkable way of creating fabulous meals in a wake of charred oven mitts and broken dishes, spilled soup and sticky dribbles in the creases of the kitchen. Mother with a knack for something more laughable than a good comedy sketch in the way she never fails to screw up the punchline of a joke. Mother of maturity and insight who could pinpoint the appropriate lessons and events by which I have marked out some fabulous courses for my life — summer jobs where I was able to work outdoors, encouragement to not just talk about writing but to call myself a writer, and so many other practical ideas she sought out to place in my lap. Mother of energy and unconditional love, unafraid to be wrong (but really, always right), to get angry or express joy, who taught me to fight my own battles and for God’s sake pick up after myself (that one didn’t really stick, sorry mom), and to go after whatever it is will make me most happy.

During the daily grind of rearing children I find it tough to imagine what will make me happy but that, like my mother in my life, is always there, even if it is pushed to peripheral places where it mixes like watercolours on the canvas of my existence. Thoughts of how best to proceed day to day blend with images of my own mother looking when I wanted to show her a dance step or a story I’d written, answering whenever I call her seeking advice, encouraging me to study or practise or move a little faster in the mornings while getting herself ready for another day at a job she loved.

I’ve had a lot of great role models in my life but my mom tops them all, and here’s how: because when I’m not feeling up to the struggle to shove pudgy round feet into square shoes, or to arm wrestle carseat straps, to clean another poopy bum, deal with midnight barf-a-thons or the confusing new math homework, and I’ve yelled at my kids not because they are awful children but because I’m tired and I’ve lost my patience, I think about all the wonderful things my mom manages alongside her roles as mother, daughter, wife and friend. This business of motherhood is not, even with well behaved, perfect children like my mom had and like I have, an easy job. So far, the only place I’ve got my mom beat is having three children to her two. But I know that when one career wasn’t satisfying, my mom worked hard, taking courses or networking to find another. And when that challenge was old hat to her, she strove for more. Always while remaining an available, approachable, and loving mother. She is my light at the end of a sometimes murky tunnel.

As I was writing this my two-year-old got out of bed, whining and wanting me to come upstairs and I said no, go back to bed, but I asked for one more hug and kiss from him. He refused. I put on a pouty face and he said, Don’t cry, so I pretended to cry and he ran into my arms with a smile and gave me a big hug and kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, all over my face the way I do to him, the way my mom did to me, and when he walked away he said, Don’t cry, and I somehow maintained my composure.

I have many wonderful female role models in my life. My very own fit and healthy ball of energy, humour, intelligence and wisdom who is a superstar of a mother, truly. Lovely aunts and a mother-in-law and sisters-in-law I admire and can confide in. I had two amazing and loving grandmothers. I have had terrific female bosses, also mothers, and only the best women friends with little ducklings in tow. My mom introduced me to the battle we as a gender have been waging, to be able to fulfill our dreams that extend outside of our work in the home while answering the very natural pull toward motherhood. Her actions as a working mom have been a lesson to me in how to go after what I want, while celebrating my femininity and my capacity as a mother. I adore time spent with my mom shopping or hiking or getting lost on a road trip and finding our way into a quaint cafe. I cherish the unending talks my mom and I are capable of, which drive the men in our family out of doors to swat flies in reverential silence. I celebrate the fact that, thanks to my mom and other women like her (although no other is quite like her), where we are is a place of true partnership between the sexes, if not complete equality. I know women like my mom worked hard to get us here.

Another thing my mother taught me is to be myself. And this self, as a mother, is something I can only be as a woman, full of both self-doubt and confidence, creativity, ambition and hope. I embrace this part with love, laughter, thoughtfulness, and never without compassion. Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss and kiss, to you, my beautiful fellow moms but most of all, to the brilliant shining star who is my very own and much beloved, mother.

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