Here is one of my earliest memories: in kindergarten one day we were playing a game that involved hopping on one foot, and I could not do it. I should explain that my mom was the kindergarten teacher and I only a four-year old, though the others were five. Anyway, my mom suggested I stay home with my dad the next day and practice hopping, which I did. I am pretty sure I learned how to hop on one leg, although I don’t actually remember that part – but I have always remembered my mom’s teaching that one can do anything with a little practice, and thus far in my life, this has proved to be true.
My mom pushed me always to do better, most of the time with a nudge, but occasionally with a fierceness that made us clash. When pushed too hard, I would simply have a temper tantrum, as the family story goes. As I grew older though, the lesson of setting my own boundaries made life very simple, most of the time. I was not caught up in the pressure of my peers at school and elsewhere, but made active choices as to my actions and behaviours at a very young age. I certainly got into trouble as a teenager, although most of this was by refusing to follow the herd. I do remember being mystified that my friends had to hide their behaviours not acceptable to their families – if I chose to do it, my family knew. Honesty was a deep-seated value in my family and deeply integrated into my psyche. There may be a few details missing, but my mom knows every mistake, every misstep, every bad choice and consequences I ever made, and she still loves me. There is a wonderful beauty in such a relationship…Maybe that is why I have always thought of my mom as my best friend, and tell her everything. It is a very different mother/daughter relationship than the one ascribed to sentiment and popular culture and the rather puerile notions of mother as madonna.
Anyway mom, I love you with the same shining light of those four-year old eyes: you will always be my best friend, even when you push me past my limits and piss me off. There may well be a few more temper tantrums: you taught me well. Still, if I got to choose, I would do it all over again, for there is a wonderful beauty in a relationship with such naked honesty. A wonderful beauty. Happy Birthday.
What a sweet tribute! You know, out of 7 children, I’m the only one who didn’t sneak around – my mom, too, knew of my discretions as well as my indiscretions. Sometime in my early twenties, she converted to a strict religion, distancing herself from me through her fundamentalism for many years. We have, however, continued an honest, if changed, relationship over the years. My sisters can be jealous of our easiness with one another, but really it’s just a lack of guile.
Happy New Year, dear one!
Happy New Year, Bela, and thank you. Lack of guile is a nice turn of phrase, and has me thinking…I try to approach all relationships this way, some more successfully than others…