Friday, May 1, 2009

In honour of Mom

With Mother's Day fast approaching I've been thinking about the women in my family and their affect on me. I come from a line of strong and interesting women. And I know my vision of myself, women, and our role in society was composed by watching them. Now my Dad was a key element in who I am today, but divorce and geography meant that my Mom and Grandmother were the main influences in my day-to-day life.

My Mom was a single mom from the time I was 14. And I have to be honest we had a pretty rocky relationship through my teens. But we both made it through and have a good relationship today.

Mom has always worked hard and I never resented the time she spent at the office or travelling... in part because she worked in something that she was passionate about. I just figured that was the way it was - if you wanted something then you worked for it. My definition of feminism was working at something you loved and having the choice to do it. So yup the work-a-holic gene didn't fall far from the tree.

My Mom also always let me make my own decisions and mistakes. She tried hard not to 'tell' me what to do with my life. With a few exceptions like when I was 15 and we had that 'talk' about my blue hair and new wave wardrobe. She rarely asked the questions my girlfriends often complained about getting from their mothers..."what do you want to do when you grow up", "when are you going to get married", "when are you going to give me a grandchild"... I did not understand or appreciate this when I was young, but as an adult I'm glad she let me set my own goals and become who I wanted to be. And I also appreciate that I kept her waiting a long time for that grandchild to spoil.

My Mom was influenced in her parenting style by her Mom. My Grandmother was in many ways the opposite of my mom...always nosey about what was going on in our lives and always had an opinion about it. The good part was she always talked more than the rest of us so you could usually get away without saying much.

My Grandmother was my 2nd mother growing up. She drove me to my skating lessons, cooked me scrambled eggs for breakfast and moved with my Grandfather to live down the street from us during my teens years. But the biggest influence she had on me was marrying my Grandfather. In the late 1930's in depression era Saskatchewan my Scottish Grandmother married my Chinese Grandfather. To put this in perspective women got the right to vote in 1918 and Chinese Canadians didn't get this right until 1947. I'm sure she must have been ostracized because of it. I know she didn't speak to one of her sisters for over 30 years because of it.
So I grew up thinking a multi-cultural household was the norm. I never realized that that was different until I was older. That was just the way it was. And to me that is the greatest gift my grandmother could have given me.

When my Mom was visiting a few weeks ago we went to see Adrienne Clarkson speak. She spoke about the need for more understanding between cultures and in her opinion the need for more mixed marriages. I was proud to look at my Mom and say that the women in my family helped pioneer that concept.

Has your mother inspired you in some way? Please add your story in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tracey. I really like this post. Especially the part about strong women. My family was dominated by strong women on both sides. I still see my maternal Grandmother running her household with 8 grandchildren running around. My Mom will be alone for the first time in her life this Mother's Day since my Dad passed away last fall. Your story moved me to really celebrate this one.