My relationship with my mother has evolved through the decades. Growing up, Mom was the nurturer, the teacher, the kisser of scraped knees. During my teen years, Mom was the disciplinarian, the nagger, the barrier between me and all the mistakes I could make. When I grew up and became a mother myself, Mom was the coach, the babysitter, and the font of motherly wisdom.
There are many facets to my mother. While her underlying character is steady, she is ready at a moment’s notice to step outside of her comfort zone, especially when her children are involved.
Here are a few moments that reveal some of the many facets of my Mom:
Mom the heroine.
When I went to elementary school, the only kids who were bussed to school were those from rural areas. All the in-town kids walked, which was perfectly safe because the streets were crawling with school-bound kids. My school was just under a kilometre from home, which seemed like a long hike for a short kid.
One snowy afternoon, I missed the wave of kids walking home because I stayed behind to slide down the snow piles next to the school’s parking lot. By the time I headed home, a blizzard was raging and soon I was swallowed up in the white swirl. I trudged my lonely way through the driving snow, trying to make sure to follow where the sidewalk used to be.
Out of the white nothingness ahead of me, a figure emerged like an apparition. Bent double, the wind whipping her coat around her legs and her hand shielding her eyes from the blinding snow, my mother had come to find me. She led me home through the wall of white. Four kids safe at home, and my Mom had walked through a blizzard to find me. Mom would brave anything to make sure her kids were okay.
Mom the tiger.
I’ve never thought of Mom as being particularly assertive, but she could have an iron will when the situation demanded, especially when her kids were involved. On one family trip to PEI, she had reserved seats for the whole family at the Charlottetown Festival’s production of Anne of Green Gables. When we arrived at the theatre box office, however, our tickets for the sold-out show had been assigned to someone else.
With a gaggle of kids and a husband in tow, Mom would not be moved. She’d dragged us all thousands of kilometres to see this play, and we were not leaving so they’d better find us some seats pretty darn quick. She must have been convincing because we watched Anne of Green Gables from one of the front rows, alongside local dignitaries. Don’t mess with my Mom.
Mom the cheerleader.
Throughout my life, Mom has been—and continues to be—my most fervent fan. Every success is celebrated and shared. Over the years, the first thing I would do when I had something to celebrate was to phone Mom. Even now, whenever I get a good mark on an exam, or another article published, Mom is ready to break out the pompoms. Mom loves to see her kids succeed.
These days, Mom is a friend. Both Mom and I are older. I don’t need rescuing from bad weather or help getting what I’ve paid for. But I still need Mom to be a fan and a friend. She is both. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!
Barbara Lehtiniemi is a writer, photographer, and AU student. She lives on a windswept rural road in Eastern Ontario.
(Editor’s note: We’re pleased, though not surprised, to point out that this article earned Barbara Lehtiniemi the Professional Writers’ Association of Canada’s “2018 Barbara Novak Award for Excellence in Humour and/or Personal Essay Writing”)