I have a good mum. She may not be perfect (like all of us) but she did the best she could. And, for the most part, she did it on her own, a truly superhuman effort as being a single mum has to be one of the hardest jobs out there.
My mum’s had her fair share of ‘shit go wrong’. She comes from a highly dysfunctional family. She’s had two failed marriages to men of less than impeccable character. She’s recovered from an addiction to marijuana where she lost her freakin’ mind and turned into a hyperactive skeleton (because the long-term heavy consumption of weed suppressed her appetite).
And yet, I still say with absolute certainty that she’s a good mum. Yes, she had her moments in my teens when the marijuana messed with her mind and changed who she was but that’s a relatively small window in 32 years of motherhood. I’m willing to cut the woman some slack on account of her previous good behaviour. I remember her saying that her wakeup call was seeing her new passport photo and not recognising herself because her face was so skeletal. But she’s really turned herself around since then and, in tribute to this awesome woman who pushed me out of her vagina 32 years and six days ago, I’d like to list the top 4 things my mum has taught me – about being a woman or otherwise.
- She showed me that women don’t need men to get shit done. Regardless of her faults, she did a damn fine job raising me on her own after my father died. I don’t remember another man in the picture until my sister’s father came along (my sister is six and a half years younger than me, you do the math). But, my mother was never really ‘with’ him so it was kind of always ‘us girls’. My mum was tough and a bit of a tomboy and I never saw her need anything from anyone. Anything that needed to be done around the house, there she was. Just getting shit done. She was fearless and independent and the one with all the answers. She used to potter around in her world class garden in her ripped jeans looking all devil-may-care and I’d think, yep, that’s my mum, just owning shit. Except I was only little so I didn’t swear so much.
- She gave me my love of books and writing. I remember asking her to read to me or tell me a story of a night time and, mostly, she would. Usually her stories were variations on the same theme; something about an adventurer finding a cave filled with treasure and getting greedy and ending up stuck in the cave (what was she trying to tell me, I wonder?). But, as a child, you don’t care that it’s the same story. You just want your parent’s attention, and she gave me that. Although, sometimes she would say, “Tell you a story? About Jack and the Glory? Shall I begin it? That’s all that’s in it” and try to escape. And I would scream, “Noooooooooo!!!” and sometimes I’d win the battle and get my story and sometimes not.
- She taught me to be a good person. She taught me right from wrong, taught me manners and to respect the environment. I appreciate these things so much as an adult, especially when I see so many people today (children and adults) without these basic… I don’t know what you’d call them. Skills is the wrong word. Whatever you call them, I just wish I can pass them along to my own children (if I have any).
- She was my role model for how to live a fun and happy life. As a child, I remember that she had a huge pile of photo albums filled with pictures from all the places she’d been. I remember thinking how cool she was that she’d seen and done so much stuff: owned a motor bike, worked on a kibbutz in Israel, traveled around the Middle East by bus, worked for the Australian government in places like Islamabad, New York and Lagos, roller skated in Central Park (in hot pants and a leotard no less!), tanned topless in the Caribbean, partied in New York in the 80s. She got herself on the door list at Studio 54 but couldn’t be bothered to go! Who was this person? I was amazed that my mother had done all these things before I’d even been born. I wanted to be just like her – to travel the world and be a free spirit.
And, while times may have changed somewhat and I don’t see her as often as I should, she is still one of the most inspiring women I know. I should call her more. We should all call our mothers more.