Disclaimer: The author would like to acknowledge that the contents of this article are a reflection of her experiences. There is no one type of mom or a mould one must fill to be considered a mother. Today, and every other day, MUSE would like to encourage our readers to celebrate whoever is close to them and has helped them become the person they are today. While Mother’s Day can be a day filled with joy and celebration for many, it can be a difficult day to get through for others. MUSE would like to recognize that this day is different for everyone.
Each Mother’s Day, I find myself unable to thank my mom enough for her role in my family. The countless things she does for my sisters and me in a given day seem almost impossible; braiding our hair, driving us to practices, and always being a phone call away – ready to rush to the rescue, whether it be a cold or a bad hair day. My mom has been my therapist, doctor, stylist, manager, best friend, and pretty much every supporting role you can think of. Now that I am lucky enough to be home in time for Mother’s Day, I decided to interview my mom about what motherhood means to her. Over coffee and a dog walk, I asked my mom to reflect on what she has learned over her years of motherhood. I did not think it was possible to admire my mom more, but as we laughed and reminisced about the most hilarious and exciting parts of my childhood, I came to the conclusion that my mom is, without a doubt, a superhero.
I started our conversation by asking my mom to describe what courses she thought would be required if there were a university degree in parenting. One of the most terrifying and admirable aspects of motherhood is that it doesn’t come with a manual, despite being one of the most challenging jobs. My mom suggested:
- Children’s literature or storytelling
- Creative design
- First aid/health and wellness
- Business or personal finance 101
The power of storytelling is an integral part of childhood as it is one of the first ways children receive instruction. The books kids read tend to stick with them their whole life. I know they have for me. My mom and I still reference the stories she read to my sisters and me before bed when we were little and share a love for the creativity and sense of adventure they sparked.
When asked, “Why a creative design course?”, my mom reflected on how difficult yet essential it is to teach kids how to entertain themselves and learn both problem-solving and fun through arts & crafts. When I was younger, my mom would never draw things for me when I asked for help because she knew I would eventually figure it out on my own. While I was incredibly frustrated at six years old, trying desperately to draw awe-inspiring birthday cards, I can now appreciate the self-reliance and confidence it built in me. Not to mention, I still refuse to buy birthday cards and always draw my own!
The third suggested course, first aid and wellness, is probably the most self-explanatory and prompted my mom and me to laugh about some epic injuries endured over the years. My mom was quick to add that a drama course might pair well with this when you have to pretend that everything is fine, even when you aren’t quite sure. For example, when I was eight and on a family trip to Italy I tried to run down a large hill WAY too fast and ended up tripping and rolling most of the way down. This left my body covered in road rash and my joints wrapped in second-skin bandages for the rest of the trip. When I remember that day, I remember my mom and grandma bandaging me up, laughing kindly at how clumsy I was. It was my mom’s ability to stay calm and smiling that ultimately made the whole situation okay.
The final course of business and finance got us talking about our shared love of thrift shopping. Even though I am the oldest, I still got most of my clothes growing up as hand-me-downs from family friends. I can remember how exciting it was to get a bag of clothes from cool older kids and sort through them with my mom. As a parent, everything you do is noticed and internalized by your kids. I am so grateful that my mom was able to show me how fun and easy it is to reuse, upcycle, and recognize the value in everything.
One of the most amazing things about parenting is that there are no universal rules to come along with such a difficult task. Even if there were a bachelor’s degree in being a mom, much of the learning process will always come from trial and error. At one point during our walk, my mom and I had tears in our eyes laughing at an old story about my sister. While my mom and grandpa were out for lunch at a dim sum restaurant, my sister slid out of her car seat and plopped gently underneath the table when my mom had her head turned. After a brief moment of panic, my sister was found quietly sitting under the table, completely unbothered. My mom and grandpa couldn’t contain their laughter at the perfect confusion and unexpectedness that raising three kids under the age of two entailed. It was nice to hear that even my super-mom and grandpa could have the hilarious mishaps that we all do.
In an effort to draw more entertaining childhood stories out of my mom, I also asked her to describe five traits she has developed or strengthened through parenting. Trait number one was patience with my mom explaining that “In order to give my undivided attention and patience to my children, I needed to learn to accept that it was OK to be less efficient in other areas of my day-to-day life – magazine subscriptions & to-do-lists be damned!” My mom then wisely added that you need to be patient with yourself and accept that sometimes there are simply not enough hours in the day to raise a tiny human and still live your life at the pace you did without the added responsibility. This is a lesson that we all can benefit from; in a time as chaotic as right now, patience with yourself is just as important as your patience with others.
Following our discussion of patience, my mom shocked me by deeming her second strengthened trait as tenacity. In my mind, there was no way that my strong-willed and confident mother could ever have been anything less than the golden standard of tenacity. As it turns out, my mom never considered advocating for others to be her strong suit until she needed to do it for her children. Seeing firsthand how young children are not always able to speak up for themselves pushed her to become the first person to speak up when someone is being taken advantage of, which we all know can be a terrifying thing to do.
Trait number three: creativity. In particular, my mom noted that “Finding ways to introduce new foods to kids and finding activities to keep them stimulated and entertained requires a different ‘lens.” This trait I can speak to firsthand as I believed that cauliflower was called ‘magical white broccoli’ until an embarrassing age that I would rather not disclose – but let’s be honest, magical white broccoli is a way better name than ‘cauliflower’. The creative and fun approaches that my mom took to introducing new things to my sisters and me when we were young promoted a more open-minded and adventurous attitude towards new experiences that I am forever thankful for.
Trait number four, perseverance, took my mom back to the early years of motherhood when she was woken up at all hours of the night to care for first me and then my twin sisters two years later. My mom added that she had a newfound respect for her mind and body, and didn’t know what she was capable of until she was in this position. Her perseverance has never faltered when it comes to helping our family succeed and grow.
The fifth and final trait my mom noted was trust. First, finding the trust to allow someone else to look after her babies and then, years later, letting her “babies” learn to drive a car with her in the passenger seat. From our interview, I learned that motherhood requires an insane level of trust, both within yourself and your abilities and in the abilities of others. I would like to publicly apologize to my mom for the time when I forgot to put the car in park and let us roll down our slanted driveway for a little… thank you for still getting into the car with me the next day and all the days after that. I now have my full license and can (usually) park the car properly.
Through all the ups and downs, my mom described her favourite part of motherhood as, “Having [her] life and understanding of society expanded through [her] children’s social interactions and experiences.” I think this goes both ways as there is nothing I love more than teaching my mom new slang, introducing her to my friends, and re-enacting my favourite tik-toks for her. Being a parent requires you to step back into a child’s perspective to understand the emotions and obstacles they face as much as possible. I am grateful that my mom has been exceptional at this, from when we had pretend tea parties to the days I would come home distraught over high school drama. In a world where it can often feel like no one understands your perspective, moms are there to give that impossible task a shot.
As our walk neared home, I concluded our interview by asking what she thought people misunderstand most about being a mom. Her reply perfectly summed up the superhuman love moms have; “The ‘mama bear’ feeling. Whether it be love, pride, fear, frustration, happiness or sadness, all emotions are amplified to BEAR-sized extremes when it comes to my feelings about my children.” Moms can seem ferocious in their protectiveness and frustration as they feel and value their family’s emotions just as much, and often even more than they do their own. The amount of love they feel for their children does not make them wild but instead powerfully empathetic and boundlessly supportive. It is only fitting that the bear represents courage, protection, and strength in many cultures worldwide.
I hope you enjoyed this mother-daughter interview as much as I did, and if nothing else, learned a way cooler name for cauliflower. I would like to give the credit of this article entirely to my mom because, as with most things in my life, it would not have been possible without her. Here’s to the people that hold us, hear us, and heal us tirelessly each and every day. I hope that no matter the circumstance, you can tell someone how much they mean to you this Mother’s Day and reflect on how lucky we are to have role models and guides in life, whatever form they may come in.
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PLAYLIST CREDIT TO BELLA CRYSLER AND GABRIEL KORTH