Often you speak of the years when we were a young family and you think of the things you did wrong. Often you talk about being tired or cranky or crabby.
Those are not my memories.
My memories start as a very young girl, curled snuggly on your lap, hands around your warm teacup. My memories are those of a feeling of safety, of warmth.
I remember skipping along the Halifax waterfront, holding hands. I remember sandwiches for Sunday lunch. I remember the gentle way you woke me up every morning before school. I remember swimming with you the week after Nanny died. You sang me a lullaby and pulled me along in the water. I was too old for that sort-of play (or so I thought), but you were safe, you would never challenge my hesitation at growing up.
When I was pregnant the first time, I was afraid that I wouldn’t know what to do. I thought that because I still found a soft place to land through you that I wasn’t ready to me a mother myself. Once Leila was born, the love that unfolded, minute by minute and day by day and year by year astounded me. The word “love” didn’t seem to be strong enough to describe how I felt. The meaning of “mother” changed for me. Instead of you, now, it was me and all of the terrifying responsibility that came with this small child.
In being a mother, in learning about sacrifice and patience and losing my cool and doing the laundry and making dinner, I have grown to appreciate you so very much.
All of the years that make my warm childhood memories, all of the suppers and all of the swimming lessons and all of the day trips to the beach, and above all, the stability – it was you all along.
You have such a wonderful ability to accept each member of our family for who they are and to embrace them. It’s no coincidence that our family is in tune with each other, that in troubled times, we are there for each other. You have provided a backbone for us and until recently, I didn’t realize how strong that was. Or how important.
You taught me how to be a mother. How to bend when sacrifice is needed and to stand strong when it can’t be made. You have taught me empathy and acceptance.
When my girls are grown I can only hope I will be so blessed to have them look back on their own childhood as fondly as I do mine.
I love you so very, very much.