Friday, May 6, 2011

For You, Mumma

My favourite picture in the whole world.

There comes a time in your life as an adult that you stop seeing your parents as parents and simply see them for the human being they actually are.  It's kind of like seeing your high school gym teacher out at a bar 10 years after you've graduated.  Kinda weird but quite enlightening.

The moment it began happening for me I was in my early to mid 20's.   I can't recall what exactly my thoughts were but it's become even more apparent since I've become a Mother myself.  I see the tough choices she's made and think about her being a single Mom with 2 kids under 5 at such a young age and I have more respect for her than I ever have.  I can only imagine going through a separation and becoming a single parent being one of the hardest experiences to deal with.  I'm fortunate that my parents dealt with it with grace and dignity.  At least that is what I saw.  It could not have been easy...I know it wasn't.  Being a Mother never is and that is why I would like to celebrate my Mother today by recalling my most precious memories of her.

Starting with the songs she sang.  So she may have sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star but I don't remember.  I do remember her singing Janis Joplin's Mercedes BenzMagalina Hagalina, Away in a Manger (I know this is traditionally a Christmas song but she sang it all read round if memory serves me correctly), Grandma got ran over by a reindeer - now this song she may have sing just at Christmas.  A couple other songs come to mind that I could not find by googling (and that says something!).  One was about a grandma swinging on an outhouse door in her underwear and another was about aliens that had to be sung with a lisp.  I know.  My Mother would not be considered a traditional sort.  But that's what you gotta love about her.

Speaking of untraditional, my Mom wasn't much of a cook, not that she was bad but I don't have a lot of memories of her cooking in the kitchen.  She did make a delicious Chicken Cacciatore (which we called Kitchen Cacciatore) and a scrumptious split pea and ham soup.

Another early childhood memory was her chasing me with a wooden spoon and swinging it over my butt...for it to connect with a snap.

The spoon broke.

I get the feeling that wooden spoons were big in the punishment department back in the 70's and 80's.  I'm pretty sure my parents weren't the only ones that used this object to threaten their children into good behaviour.  Let me be clear that this was NOT a terrible memory.  It actually makes me laugh.  I also locked myself in the bathroom one time so as not to be whacked with that archaic form of discipline....she laughed.  And I laughed too.

Actually, I'm still laughing.

My Mom has a Mom dance.

You know the dance.

It used to embarrass the heck out of me. She'd be singing her heart out to a song with her elbows bent at her sides, fingers snapping, shoulders keeping rhythm bopping and shrugging as her feet did the side to side shuffle.  My brother and I would beg her to stop.  She never did.  In fact I'm pretty sure she would sing louder and dance more enthusiastically.

My first feeling of true happiness that I physically, mentally and emotionally remember was with my Mother.  It was spring and we were at a sugar bush.  I can't recall what age I was but I do recall the sweet smokey smell of maple syrup being made, the hay ride into the sugar bush and a feeling of real contentment filling me up.  I think I may have told my Mom it was the best day ever.  And if I didn't or you don't remember me saying those words, than I am telling you now Mumma.  That was one of my best days ever.  Every time I've been to a sugar bush since the saccharine scent of syrup mingled with the smell of wood burning brings me right back to that day, that feeling of peace filling up my soul.

Growing up, our house was always open to family.  My aunt and my cousin lived with us for a time as well as my uncle.  They were going through some trying times and she could never, nor would ever turn away family.

She has a heart of gold.

I don't remember her laughing or smiling often when we were really little but when I made her laugh, the sound of it gave me the best feeling ever.  She has the most infectious laugh of anyone I know.  I am happy to say that she laughs a lot more today.  She also makes me laugh.  She has a fabulous sense of humour and says the funniest sayings that most people have never heard of.  Her most famous saying (that I now repeat) is declaring "And we're off like a turd of hurtles!"  When describing a small room or space she'll say "It was so small I had to go outside just to change my mind!"

She kills me.

My Mum bought me my first pair of thongs.  TMI?  Probably.  But let me tell you...I've never looked back.  VPL be GONE!  I truly believe thongs have changed my life. Thank you Mom, for being cooler than me.

When I was in college we lived together just the 2 of us in a cozy 2 bedroom apartment.  It was favourite memory of living there with her was coming to her door just before I'd go to bed, she'd be reading by soft lamp light, sipping tea and reading a novel (I got my love of reading from her...but not a love of tea).  Sometimes I would just pop in and give her a kiss good night and other nights I would come in and sit on the side of her bed and we'd talk.  About whatever.  Anything, everything. We still have great conversations, they take place mostly over the phone now.

I wrote a poem for my Mum, about my Mum...I will simply call it Ellen (her name);

Don't let her slight of stature fool you

Her strength my spire

Her heart beats 


Open to love



Deeply sensitive

Though seemingly unyeilding

Blunt honesty

Not always embraced

Though words always effectual

An abounding light of energy

Independence her very soul


A vision frequently eluded


More deserved then she will

Ever know

If there's anything at all that I've learned in my very short 33 years but especially since becoming a Mother is that we all make mistakes, have lapses in judgement, some mistakes bigger, some lapses deeper, but I can say that in all of my relationships I've learned to take people at face value.  Accepting them for who they are and appreciating and loving them for their good qualities, seeing their faults but not defining them by them because nobody is perfect.  We are all human paradoxes.

I accept my Mother for all that she is and I hope that my sons will do the same for me, for I know there will come a day when they will see me as more than just their "Mom".  No doubt I will make mistakes, have some down days and allow negativity to get the best of me. I will say some things that I'll later wish I hadn't.  I hope I don't but that's not reality.  WE ALL DO THAT.  My wish is that as adults my sons can see me for the person that I am.  And I hope they embrace me and love me as much as I love the person my Mother is.

I feel extremely lucky to have the relationship I do with my Mum.  It hasn't always been easy, God knows it hasn't, nor do I expect it to be at all times but it's a good one.  We've had our differences and arguments for which we've gone days without talking but those times have been very few and far between.  I admire my Mother more than any other woman I know.  We are so different yet so alike.  I catch myself sounding just like her sometimes.

It makes me smile.

I wish we lived closer.

I miss her.

Isn't she beautiful!?


Tanya said...

Thank you for sharing that. It's like your words were exactly the way I feel at times about my mom. You're a wonderful person and daughter, you're mom is lucky to have a beautiful person as you are lucky to have her. Things are not easy being a single mom of two, I remember how it was for us too! What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger, they say...I believe it. xox

Perfecting Dad said...

Absolutely lovely.

Ellen said...

Thank you Gorgeous Girl for this precious tribute. The songs you couldn't find are ones I probably wrote...I used to do goofy things like that. I remember that day with the wooden spoon probably because it wasn't my nature to hit my kids. My mother used to thrown them at us and always missed (probably on purpose). Mistakes I made aplenty and I'm sure there are more in my future but I've always allowed love to guide me. I love you to the moon and back. Mum

Ellen said...

P.S. The poem called "Ellen" is so very touching. It made my eyes well up. You have always been an amazing and awesome daughter and now you are an amazing wife and mother...just as I knew you always would be.

Lisa said...

Beautiful. I sing Mercedez Benz to my kids. I hope they remember someday.

parenting ad absurdum said...

What a gorgeous post. And the mom dance... I never realised until I had my own what an absolutely pleasure it is to embarass your kids - just a little ;).

January Dawn said...

Your welcome Mum. I'm happy you liked my poem. :)
Thank you Lisa and Peryl! I haven't had the pleasure of embarassing my kids yet (they're too young) but gotta say....looking forward to it!

January Dawn said...

And thank you Tanya and Alex. I very much enjoyed reminiscing and writing this post.

Ellen said...

This is your mum remembering...I don't believe I actually was the awful mule slippers that hindered my true dancing talent.

January Dawn said...

Oh the mule slippers! How I never understood the open toed concept of the mule slipper. Aren't slippers supposed to keep the toes warm?...

Ellen said...

I just read this again GG. That's the beauty of this gift, I can visit anytime I miss you.

January Dawn said...

Love and miss you too.