I got it from my momma
I have written a couple of blog posts that have been an homage to my dad, and by golly, it's my mom's turn. She has one, it's pretty funny, you can read it here, and since it's Mother's Day, she deserves another.
I've always wanted to write my mom's story, her whole story. I think that's why I haven't really written too many blog posts about her. I wanted to write an Angela's Ashes type memoir/biography of her because her life is just too interesting. It will be Irish humour, sprinkled with proverbs and tidbits of wisdom, but it won't get heavy and bogged down in too many details, it will be like a lemon meringue pie, just like her. I will have to keep some details hidden and maybe change some names to pseudonyms because my mom is a landed immigrant and if she tries to become a citizen here she will automatically owe her previous government scads of money because of 2008. Thank you 2008, you made it so that my mom would never be able to vote or hold public office. Stupid 2008.
My mom has had such an interesting life. I had to sit down one time and ask her to go through it chronologically because she had done so much before she was married and she was married at 20, with a kid at 21, and then seven more in 11 years. She's a machine. I once asked her what it was like to give birth that many times and she just said, "you were the only one to give me stretch marks". I guess that's why she stopped at me, I'll have no more of that, thank you very much.
She is a fierce woman. Not in a mean or a cold way. There are women out there that fierce would mean you would be scared to sit across from them in a board meeting, or have them as your boss, not my mom. I think my mom would be an awesome boss, because she was one at home for so many years. She told us things like "toe the line buck-o", and when she yelled "hey!" your head nearly snapped back in correction. I heard it come out of my throat one time while I was teaching. There were two boys about to get into a fight and it was as though I was mother-possessed, I heard "Hey! You wanna fight, gwon outside". Thanks to my mother's previous homeland she has a slight accent that only shows up in the oddest of moments, and usually when she's angry. Gwon is "go on" but it becomes monosyllabic when it flows from her lips, and, apparently, mine (I should tell you that the "hey" was enough to disrupt the boys from their escalating argument and as a teacher I would never let kids just go outside and fight). Her fierceness is like a platinum core inside of her, surrounded by loving, soft, motherliness, you know when you've hit the core and you know that the core won't be shaken.
When I was about to turn 18 I was moving out of the house. I was off to attend university. It wasn't as glamorous as I had wanted since it was only 50 kilometres or so from my parents' door step. I had grandiose ideas that university would take me to a far off place where I would become utterly independent and unattached from the small town life. But, the best university for Education was close to home, so I stayed close to home. My mom told me before I pulled out of the driveway that, unbeknownst to her as to how it came about, I was her most confident child. I smiled. I got in the car and drove 50 kms through a tear hazed view. I had no idea how I was going to pay the bills, let alone navigate the new world of university.
And then, completely out of character, I slept through my first university class. You have to know that I am lying. It was the struggle of my parents' mornings to try to get me out of bed. They tried everything, and eventually they let the consequences fall directly on my head. I showed up at school in grade 7 one time at 11:30. My teacher asked me why I had even bothered to come in the morning but I was in such a panic that I just got dressed and ran to school. And in high school I would often miss morning assembly and go straight to my first class. I wasn't a deviant, I was honestly, a fairly obedient kid and I generally lived inside the rules, as long as the rules fell between 10 am and 1 am. I fight hard to this day to be a morning person, I love them and I'm working at it but every now and again... I just can't fight my bed.
Anyway, I woke up and class would have had 10 minutes left, at most. I picked my class schedule based on their start times. I ended up with three finals on the same day but no classes (except for an education one) before 10 am. Still, I managed to sleep through the first 10 am class. There was no one to call for my absenteeism, there was no one to keep me accountable but I was so distraught I didn't know what to do.
So, Miss Confident called her mom in a ball of tears, sobs, and loud snorts, explaining that I had somehow not heard my alarm (I wish that at this point I could say my mom was shocked and gasped, she did not), my brother/roommate had left for work, and what ever would I do?
I could see her, in my mind, as I sat at my dining room table sobbing away. She was bringing me down from the cliff of, "I'll never pass that class" (which, coincidentally I did fail because I failed to hand in any assignments and then had to come clean to my mom about both failures - that's another post for another day), and she said, "You're going to take a deep breath. Get ready. And get to your next class. There's nothing you can do about it now. And then you're going to get up on Thursday. And. Get. To. Class." What I saw was her poking her finger into the desk in front of her. When my mom really wants to make a point, her index finger becomes her lecture stick and it has to tap something punctuating the. end. of. every. short. sentence. (a. trait. I. also. carry.).
Her love, in that moment, was that strong core that I needed. I felt so soft, so naive, and so little in the big university world, and over the phone, she injected that platinum core into me with her index finger tapping on her desk. I know where I got my confidence. I got it from a woman who believed in me, and spoke things into me that I didn't see, a woman that sacrificed so much and gave everything to her children. I got it from my momma.
That's (definitely not) all (about my fierce mom).