Things my mother taught me

2011-05-06 12:39

I look at my mom in absolute awe. She’s a divorced woman who raised four really different but equally amazing (even if I say so myself) children in a home that was far more functional than not.

Now, I’m not saying she is a Super-Mom, of course not, but I’m pretty sure that mom taught her a thing or two.

Never be afraid to start over
To me my mom knows it all, I could call her for help with a toothache, directions to an obscure location in the city, an over-the-phone tutorial on how to change a tyre and a recipe for a dinner party. I have seen her do it all with the greatest of ease, or at least that’s how it seemed.

So I was quite surprised one day when she told me that when my parents divorced she knew nothing about changing tyres or light bulbs, she had no idea where rent and such bills were paid and knew nothing about investments and the market.

But she learnt quickly.

The future that lay before her needed new skills and new knowledge. Her secondhand Nissan Sentra taught her all she needed to know about cars and she let AA handle the rest and, she said, you would be surprised how quickly you get to learn your way around Joburg by getting lost every now and then.

Love family till it hurts and then ... love some more
I’m convinced my great-grandmother was far from senile. She was just a really really old woman who had seen way too much for one lifetime, a 114-year lifetime. She was not the most pleasant of women; compliments were few and curses many.

But each day my mother did her best to provide all the medical attention and the family support we all needed. Our home was always open to relatives and close friends who needed a helping hand. Having to share your space and pay cheque with seven other people could not have been easy.

Pain is fleeting, but only if you let it
If break-ups are anything to go by, divorces bring more pain than I can imagine. But I have learnt that these things happen and it’s ok to feel the pain but you can dwell in it for ever.

You focus on what gets you by and you move on, one day at a time at first, then months and years go by and you realise that you are better than just OK. You are living life and loving it and looking damn good while doing it.

I can do better anything you can do
Being 22 months apart in age, my big brother and I are pretty close and were raised in pretty much the same way by my mother. No child of hers would grow up believing they couldn’t do anything just because they were a girl or boy.

So when I was curious about this knitting hobby that kept my gran busy all day, mom insisted my brother learn to knit too. We took turns with cooking, cleaning, washing the car, changing light bulbs and starting a fire on cold winter days.

We grew up as kids in a home with (too) many chores and gender was as irrelevant as your opinion on whether or not you wanted to go to Sunday School.

But that wasn’t always so grand. My brother convinced me once that I too could play with fireworks like the other boys in the neighbourhood.

Oh boy, so much fun ... until the darn thing exploded in my hand. But luckily, even though girls could play with fireworks, the big ones were saved for the big boys.

A woman is strong and brave and honest and and and ...
If I could grow up to be half the person my mother is, I’d be pretty darn amazing. Raising your daughter to be the kind of woman you would be proud of in a society like ours is a tough job.

I’m glad I was raised by a woman who is beautiful, strong, harsh, gentle, emotional, vocal, honest, resilient, persistent, faithful, trustworthy, strict, caring, kind and so much more.

It just lets me know there are so many kinds of woman I can be one day.

Tough love never killed anyone
Now I only know this because I am still alive and there was plenty tough love when growing up.

There is so much we learn from the women who mould us and I’m looking forward to realising new lessons with each challenge so I too can one day have a daughter write about me too.

And now to figure out what to get her for Mother’s Day. Any ideas?

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