I’ve had a revelation of sorts in recent months. I think I might actually like my mother now. Oh, love for sure. After all, that umbilical cord still ties mother and child together long after it’s been cut. Besides, familial love is inevitable. Obligatory even. But to like one’s mother is a little more challenging I should think. It’s not easy to write off all that teenage angst. The fact that at 30 (ish) I still remember every altercation I’ve had with my mother in those bygone days should prove it.
Like the times she would make me put my hair up in double pony tails to go to school. I actually had a (horrible) teacher who once made fun of me publicly in class about that! That was traumatic to say the least. And the times she made me wear horrible dowdy, dumpy clothes: long skirts and high-collared blouses. Shudder! And the times she wouldn’t let me watch my favourite programs on TV, but made me go and study. She wouldn’t let me go to friends’ houses without armed security. She would freak out on report cards. My sister and I used to wonder if she was our step-mother. You’ll agree now that I had a terrible albeit normal childhood. And this is just the tip of the iceberg: I haven’t told you everything for fear that you might judge her too severely.
You see, as I’ve grown older, I find myself less critical of her and more forgiving. I realize that a lot of the fights we’ve had happen in most homes across the world. And when I look at old photographs I realize that my mother was still young and inexperienced back then and she probably was equally freaked out about puberty and trainer bras. Throw my dad into the mix, and we had a veritable cornucopia of soaring tempers and tear-stained pillows. I guess we were all caught in the inexorable path of adolescence that none of us was prepared to deal with.
Childless as I am (something friends and family never cease to remind me about), I think I understand. Besides it’s all water under the bridge now, and there’s no point in dredging up the past. At least that’s the way I look at it. I wasn’t abused or starved, and I’ve turned out pretty alright, I think. That should surely suffice? However, I do fully understand and empathize if some of you are less inclined to forgive just yet.
But I digress. Back to my main thread: it must be age that’s mellowed her, but I think my mother has become less annoying and more dependent on me (she may not be ready to admit this). We have meaningful conversations mostly involving her dispensing advice. I call her several times a week to catch up on gossip. She cooks in bulk so I can take most of it home with me. I missed her when she went on a long vacation last month. I find myself wondering what I’ll do when she finally decides to move back home. I’ve also started looking out for her in small, impalpable ways: checking on her eating habits and exercise regimen, getting mad at people who treat her rudely at malls, asking her about her retirement plans. I know its clichéd but I guess this is coming full circle.