It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon and my mother and I just finished up a delicious brunch followed by a stroll along the quaint side streets.
We picked up some flowers and freshly baked desserts to bring home and decided stopped off at some small local shops.
“It’s a great colour on you, mom. You should definitely grab it.”
My mother held up the lace patchwork lotus leaf shoulder emerald green chiffon blouse and stared scrupulously at it for what seemed like hours.
Sighing deeply, I turn away and start skimming through a rack of lovely vintage dresses.
Shopping with my mom was no easy feat; she is one of the most fastidious people I know. Mostly because she wants to ensure she’s putting her money in the right place and for the right things.
Growing up, it’s always been that way. She was that mom.
She’s not only finicky, she’s also brutally honest and quite tough.
She never let us do anything until we completed our chores, homework or dinner.
She nagged us about everything until we finally blurted out what she already knew.
She had a tendency of saying things we didn’t want to hear but had to.
When friends were over, she was that mom that would be folding her laundry in the next room and listening attentively to our conversations. This is usually because she suspected something that I wasn’t telling her that she noticed was bothering me, and usually she was right.
Before anybody left our home, they were very well fed (regardless if they were hungry or not to begin with) and often bringing home a doggy bag.
When we leave the house, she would smother us with hugs and kisses. Lots of it.
She even did it in front of our friends as we got older as teens with no regard for our feelings of humiliation.
“I will keep on doing it till you’re old and grey.” she would say.
When we were treated badly from someone at school or by a neighbours’ child, she didn’t hesitate to pick up the phone or knock on doors and voice her concerns… and quickly.
When we forgot our lines during a play on stage and stood frozen in front of an auditorium of watchful eyes, she was that mom that would be mouthing your lines to you so you could remember, from the very front row (because front row had her name on it weeks in advance).
She was also that mom that bawled her eyes out after your first ballet recital.
When you had your first big ouchie, she would tear up with you and hold you until the pain subsided pretending her kisses had magical healing powers (and even to this day, you still believe they do).
She was that mom.
When you had your first heartbreak and all you wanted to do was stay cooped up in your room listening to sad love songs and ripping up pictures, crying as if it was the end of the world, she would bring up your food, shut off the music, force you to shower and dress up so you can go out to a movie and dinner (that she arranged) with your friends (that she called) so you can “forget about that loser!” and move on with your life.
I remember a time many years ago, pre-marriage and pre-children, my mother and I got into some super intense squabble over some adolescent independence controversy. It may have been about me wanting to hang out with some folks my mom was totally against.
She felt they were a really bad influence and would lead me on a destructive path.
I wanted to run away. Oh, I despised her so at that point. I was the Green-eyed teenage monster at her finest.
We had a tendency to argue quite a lot as I grew up about issues big and small.
But what I do remember is that she always allowed me to make my own decisions in the end.
And yes, I certainly learned my lesson plenty times. But I think that was exactly her intentions. She was a sly one, my mom. She knew exactly what she was doing.
“I don’t think I’m going to get this blouse.” She leans closer to me and then whispers, “I saw something similar somewhere else and for much cheaper.”
“Oh come on mom. It’s vintage. You won’t see this style anywhere else.
“Oh but I have.” She proceeds to walk out the of the shop, waving goodbye to the retail attendant, a nonchalant smile plastered across her face.
She walked out of that shop empty-handed (after almost an hour of browsing) so we decided to check out a quaint décor store right next door.
We came across some gorgeous throw pillows with the most intricate and beautiful deigns.
Perfect! I was looking for some.
“Are you getting it?” My mom asks after I glanced quickly at the price tag. I shook my head as I walked off.
“I know a place that has similar ones for half the price.”
Did I just say that?
My mom shot me a cheeky grin.
“I’m sure you do.” She replied.
The next half hour was spent on my mom trying to convince me why certain pieces would be best in my home, even considering the fact that we have completely different design tastes.
May I remind you, mother, it’s my home. Not yours.
I told myself before, despite how much I love and respect my mom, I could never be like her; that we are just too different.
That when I was a mom, my parenting style would be much more disparate than hers is and that I’d be way more lenient and understanding with my children.
That I wouldn’t nag them to finish their food or bombard them with a million questions after school.
That I wouldn’t get into their personal business or problems when it came to friends.
That I wouldn’t push them to keep on keepin’ on when they wanted to quit swim or dance because they’re bored and lost interest.
That I wouldn’t care if they didn’t wash their hands after coming in from playing, every single time.
And that if they wanted to eat ice cream before dinner, it was okay! Why not?
I realized now, as a mother more than ever, that she did understand after all.
And that she always has.
That many of the things I do now without realizing — how I react and even, at times, words that I say to my children, prove that I am, in fact, that mom. My mom.
Sure now we still have our differences but I’ve learned to embrace them a little more now being a mother myself, especially when it comes to our parenting style (a lot has changed since she was parenting toddlers i.e. NOT okay to hold onto them in the backseat with a seat-belt if they were crying to be held instead of being strapped into a car-seat). I know that everything she says is out of the goodness of her heart although sometimes I may look at it the wrong way. I realize that now as mother of a rather iron-willed daughter myself, that I am becoming, in her eyes, that mom.
And you know what? I don’t think I’d have it any other way.