While “Eat your vegetables!”, “Make sure you wear clean underwear!” and “Go ask your father” echoed in many of my friends’ homes, the fact is I liked vegetables, I was a neat freak when it came to clothes and my mom was a teacher, so the parental playbook in our house was adjusted a bit. More commonly heard were “Eat your sandwich crusts, you’ll grow big and tall” (still waiting for that to happen), “Clean your bedroom, it’s a firetrap” (thankfully I outgrew that phase) and “Haven’t you seen that (TV) episode before?” (a non-issue since watching classic TV shows is still a hobby today).
From what my mother tells me, I wasn’t a difficult kid to raise. I vividly recall that if I was ever starting to step out of line, Mom just had to say my name in an assertive tone with an upward inflection while giving me “the eye”. It worked. Plus if I knew that if I didn’t straighten up, the matter would be referred to a higher court, my dad, whose approach wasn’t quite as subtle. More often than not, I was scared onto the straight path. Plus without a brother or sister to egg me on or to blame things on, I didn’t have much choice but to do as I was told.
But that being the case, even if I was an easygoing happy kid, I so deeply appreciate the time Mom took in instilling in me a legacy of life lessons, while at the same time raising 30 other kids in her classroom. Where she found the energy, I will never know, but I am so glad that she is enjoying her retirement years, finally having much deserved time for herself.
I appreciate that there is clearly more to being a mom than being a life coach. For that reason, mothers deserve our love, respect and gratitude, not just on Mother’s Day, but the other 364 days of the year too. Even in the most modern of arrangements, mothers are full-time CEOs of households, overseeing everything from restaurant operations, housekeeping, front desk/accommodations, family medecine, family law as well as emergency preparedness and response. Even if some of those responsibilities are subcontracted in exchange for allowances, the entire operation is overseen by Chairperson Mom.
This extraordinary responsibility did not extend exclusively to my own mom, but to all mothers, including those who assume the role selflessly outside the home. For example, in my first part-time job at your friendly neighbourhood pharmacy, aside from the pharmacy-owner, the entire staff was comprised of women, most of whom were proud mothers and grandmothers. It was probably their instinct to do so, but I instantly felt the support of all of these women who took me under their wing, teaching me the ABC’s of client service and how to serve our customers with respect, kindness, sensitivity and dignity (especially given the pharmacy environment). I like to think that the values they instilled were some of the professional building blocks that helped me become who I am today.
Throughout my career, the maternal instinct surrounded me again and again as I was often hired into work teams mostly comprised of women, which always created a familiar, comforting and nurturing environment for me. It was this environment that offered me the chance to grow professionally and personally, with no shortage of great advice… including “eating my crusts”!
But even as a child, I always recall a strong presence of grandmothers, aunts, school teachers, babysitters and my friends’ Moms, all within my inner circle, injecting their own educational, moral or spiritual guidance. When I think about it, there really was a village that raised me!
As life went on, as did the natural ebb and flow of people within our lives, so did the maternal influences change over the years. As much as I miss the special love of my grandmothers, I realize that new faces showed up at the right time with kind gestures, thoughtfulness, friendship and love to help fill in the void left behind. I am so thankful for the generous spirit of my stepmother, my friends, my neighbours, my teachers later in life and even my fabulous seamstress… I need a lot of alterations done since the sandwich crusts thing never really panned out.
Honourable mention as well to my favourite author Erma Bombeck, whose entire writing career was based on the humourous anecdotes of day-to-day family life as told from the point of view of a mother. I don’t think it was an accident that I discovered her books early in my teen years and took to them right away.
I don’t know what it was on my spiritual journey that led me to form such strong bonds with the women that surrounded me in my day-to-day life, but I am incredibly lucky that these were the women that were put on my path.
While I always think of the paternal influences, the male energy in my life, as establishing the solid parameters and the structure I needed, the maternal energy I encountered throughout my life, from all sources, was the nurturing energy I needed to thrive and become who I am today. For that I will always be honoured and grateful, and for that I raise my glass… Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms who helped raise me!