You know what’s tough? Sitting down to write about your mother.
I’ve been putting this off for weeks, and as Mother’s Day quickly approaches, I finally put the time aside to try to write down all the things that have been percolating in my head about my mother and what she means to me.
Let me start off by saying I was born into communist Poland in 1980, and my father used to stash illegal documents (he was an activist and used to print newsletters and papers about the truth of it all) right under my bassinet mattress while my mother played it off as another walk in the park. My life literally started off in the hands of rebels with a cause.
So, it’s no wonder that growing up I was a slightly rebellious child. Although I’m pretty sure if she were to give her input, my mother would cancel out the word “slightly” and replace it with a few words of her own. I know I wasn’t easy… I was a hardheaded, stubborn and demanding little spawn – especially after my sister was born. Tales have been told and retold at various family occasions about how I would purposely shit myself to get her attention away from the time-hogging newborn – pretty gross, but also very strategic for a toddler, I must say.
I remember gravitating more towards my dad, as he was the super chill and awesomely entertaining guy who didn’t break my balls. AKA: the “fun parent”. So naturally my mom had to take on the role of the trail blazing, disciplining, no bullshit man in charge.
When I was 4, and my sister 2, we moved from Poland to Libya, and from there to Italy, as my parents had work contracts that cracked open a world of adventure for them. This invaluable travel experience was the crux of our early childhood education in culture and respecting other people. During our time in Rome (where actually, my parents were planning to stay – IMAGINE?) we jumped the bandwagon to Canada in search of opportunity (and healthcare). In the winter of ’86, the four of us landed in Toronto, and it was fucking cold.
Luckily I was young enough to jump right into this new country, although it was not quite so simple for my parents. They were thrown into a world they knew nothing about, narrated in a language only my father had a limited understanding of, and if they were anxiety ridden and stressed, we didn’t feel it. My mother made sure to make our new home feel like it had been our forever home. I couldn’t imagine what she must have been feeling.
I spent my tweens / teens breaking ground for my sister (read: adventures in mastered sneak outs and late nights) and got into trouble a lot. Those were the tough times when my mother and I didn’t see eye to eye. And probably the times I needed her the most.
In truth, the teen years deserve their own essay, but since we’re short on space and attention, I’ll just say – when I got pregnant, I internally WILLED myself a boy because I knew if I had a daughter anything close to what I was like when I was 16, it would end in murder. My mother actually had to quit her job to make sure I got back in line, which I’m pretty sure she still holds over my head. #ImSorry
Somewhere in my mid twenties I finally figured out who I was, and became a better woman for it. Around this time is probably when mama let out a huge sigh of relief and felt a tad more comfortable with me being my independent self.
At 30, I got married and at 33, I became a mother to my 4/20 miracle, Oscar.
It was then, and almost immediately, that my view of my own mother and perspective of motherhood as a whole, changed completely. It is now that I know with every hurdle and challenge that comes my way, she’s been there too. X a million.
I now understand a mother’s unconditional love, her sacrifice for her children, her relentless fight to make the absolute best life for them. I now know how hard the work of a mother is, and how little we really knew about the struggle that was so real for a woman with two young children, who left her family behind, flew across the world to a new country and made it work.
A true rebel at heart.
There are still things that I can’t get on board with (like, overly lengthily detailed phone conversations) but I’m learning to let little things go and listen to more of what she has to say. After all, it’s coming from the purest place of all – a mother’s heart.
I am reminded to be kind, patient and loving to the only mother I will ever have; to the mother that loves me just as much as I love my own son. With every kiss goodnight.
She cultivated the idea to us that nothing is impossible, to keep pushing forth with dreams and goals so we can inevitably reach them, and to never give up. She taught me it’s never too late to start over, there is opportunity everywhere if you seek it, and most importantly to be strong, outspoken and know how to command the room (above). My mother shows me every day that family matters most, and that you absolutely have to make the time for each other because it passes in a flash.
For all this, I will forever be grateful.