I know, it’s not Mother’s Day. In fact, it’s practically Father’s Day (as evidenced by people advertising the things that, as a future mother, I would rather have on Mother’s Day… root beer… steak… electronic things…).
But, regardless of the day, this list wouldn’t be complete without throwing my mother’s name on it.
Or rather, her face.
My mom is one of those curiously tough, “preternaturally strong on unicorn blood” sort-of people (sorry, I watched a bit of Harry Potter over the weekend).
As I’ve reached adulthood, I’ve realized just how peculiarly strong my mother is. All things considered, my mother should be rather a different walnut with all of the challenges that she’s had but, instead, she’s always been this marshmallow-y hurricane… she’s pretty much GOING to hit you, but it’s a maelstrom of sugar and sweetness.
I grew up observing the British concept of the stiff upper lip… one behaves with composure and dignity, one does not shirk, one does not give in to weakness. My mother suffered from chronic migraines for several years during my childhood, and even though she might say the words, “I have a migraine”, she still walked and talked and laughed and cooked dinner and did volunteer work.
Not until my first migraine (in my mind, I imagine myself curled in the fetal position, breathing shallowly and whisper-screaming “DRUGS… GIVE ME DRUGS…”) did I realize how absolutely not normal she was.
My mom was that person who was at the church more often that the pastors were (which says nothing about the pastors and everything about how well I knew the cubby holes in that building). We lived three blocks away, so we walked to church several times a week.
Why did we walk?
1) My mother is legally blind and therefore cannot drive.
2) My father worked nights and was asleep during the day (and even when he was awake, could not be prevailed upon to take us… there were capital ‘I’ issues).
3) A nice, brisk walk and little healthy exercise never hurt anyone.
Mom sewed the costumes for our Christmas and Easter productions, helped with office work, manned the phones, and in generally just did whatever people asked.
And people asked a LOT.
I didn’t resent this as a child, because I never felt the tiniest bit neglected. Somehow, she still managed to do literally everything at home… meals from scratch, sewing clothes, cleaning, gardening, homeschooling, and basic IT services.
When my parents got divorced (and trust me, the phrase “got divorced” doesn’t begin to express how long, how bizarre, how messy, and how ultimately necessary that whole experience was), my mom understandably struggled.
I don’t know that I ever actually saw it… or maybe I did, but she wasn’t obvious about it. She didn’t go around weeping and gnashing her teeth, tearing her clothes and covering her head with ashes.
She still smiled and laughed and wore real clothes.
I didn’t know until years later that she was actually suffering from depression.
No one else knew it either.
My mother has the mother of all game faces, apparently.
She has since been healed of her depression, and hilariously, she’ll mention how much better she feels, and I will think, “That’s interesting, because you look and sound exactly the same as you always have.”
Have I mentioned before that I tend to think in a dry British voice?
In my opinion (which is the only one that counts here, since I’M writing, and it’s MY mom), my mother exemplifies dignity. Throughout my entire life, my mother has lived out a “keep calm and carry on” sort-of existence, simply dealing with hard things and terrible things, continuing to smile, and perhaps more importantly, not killing anyone. I’ve noticed that now, as an adult, I expect to be able to do exactly what my mother has done, and I’m realizing that (unless you drink the unicorn blood), it actually requires a certain level of (herculean) effort.
Now, I’m just going to say this for the record, so we all understand my position.
In recent days (and by days, I mean years), it has become apparent that there are some people who, while quite comfortable taking full ungentlemanly advantage of her strengths, do not see fit to treat her as well as she deserves, or even as a well as they would treat any woman on the street.
Yeah, you lot.
You know who I’m looking at.
Your actions have been noted, and you may consider yourselves to be on notice, sirs.
I know… it’s quite vague, and quite passive aggressive of me, but I’m sure that we all understand how protective the children of excellent mothers can be.