Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

I am reminded on this day that my mother gave me life and a good start, but what I have chosen to do, say, and think since then, and especially since I have been an adult, has been all my own doing...

Wendy McLeod MacKnight's photo.
Swaddled to within an inch of my life...
I still have the angora sweater my mum was wearing!

As luck would have it, my mother was smart.  She liked a good drink and a Matinee cigarette.  She read 4-5 books every week and hated housework, which she pretty much refused to do.  She cooked, but it was never a passion, although she had a few recipes that could knock your socks off.  She had a Masters Degree when most women her age were not attending university.  Her idea of slumming it was the Holiday Inn and it is a real pity we were never wealthy, as I think she might have done wealthy really well!  She liked Judy Garland, The Edge of Night, detective novels, good movies (the last movie she ever went to see in the theatre was Schindler's List when she was losing her eyesight), white rum, and wine.  She loved her family and friends.

As I get older, I become more and more sympathetic towards my mother, something I wasn't always capable of when she was alive.  More and more I feel like I am my mother's daughter; that the spark in me is the spark from her.  She was, as they say, a trouper.  And there are far worse things than to be the child of a smart trouper.

On this Mother's Day, I am reminded that, just as I have forgiven my mother all of her mistakes, so must I forgive myself for all of the mistakes I have made as a mother. 

And in spite of my mistakes, I have managed to raise two fine, kind people and one neurotic dog (he takes after his dad). 

We do well to remember that in the end, we are human.  Our mothers were the ones who brought us into this world and if we are fortunate, we are able to be with them to see them out of it.  And in between, we love them and they love us imperfectly.  The world is full of frail people, and I have come to the conclusion that the job description of mother demands it of us.

“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'

'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.

'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'

'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?'

'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”

Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit    

So this Mother's Day, in the midst of being feted or feting, take a moment and thank god for the opportunities you have been given by your mother, wrapped as they are in all their perfect imperfection.

Me?  I'll be drinking some wine and listening to Judy Garland in honour of the woman who started it all for me.

xoxo Wendy



  1. Well done Wendy! I would have liked your Mom!

  2. Such a lovely and touching post. Happy Mother's Day to you!! :-)

  3. Happy Mother's Day Wendy and such a lovely post. I often wish I could raise my rascals again mistake-free but I did my best and have to let it go. Though I think Old Rascal will never forgive the year he spent at a waldorf school doing endless puppet shows and not learning ANY math as he still reminds me.
    Really I would just like to have the time back so I could do it all again.
    I phoned my own mother first thing this morning and fingers crossed I think I convinced her to come and visit us this week... the older I get the less I understand my mother but perhaps that will one day change. I certainly accept her choices but the understanding, that's harder to come by for me.
    It doesn't matter, I certainly understand the work involved in the rearing so my respect is endless.
    I hope you had a wonderful day! Wish you were here having a glass of wine with me on the porch!

    1. The funny thing I find is that the things I think we're mistakes they don't think were and the things I think I did well, they give me grief! :-). They treated me royally yesterday, that's for sure!

  4. I just had a lovely glass of cabernet on our porch; first day nice enough to sit out here. This sounds like a complicated subject for you. My own 90 year old mom is still herself, very reserved and non-emoting, but somehow a major factor in who I am today. She is a lifelong teetotaller, but accepting of how others live. I always tell my girls I love them, as mom did not tell us, although we always felt it. To this day she will give me a card, and then say she meant every word. Because she cannot say it.

    1. I will try and bring the fine weather with me! I think what makes my relationship with my mom complicated is that she died 15 years ago when I know so much less than I do now. I think the luckiest people are those who have their mums into their 40s, 50s and beyond; you really get your parents then. I sure found that with my dad. I think your mom sounds lovely!

  5. Happy Mothers' Day, Wendy, I had complicated relationships with both parents - I think I was too much of a challenge for them. My mother wanted to raise children, not adults, about sums it up. I think I haven't made their mistakes, but I've made plenty of my own.

    1. That is one of the most profound statements I have ever heard - that someone's parents wanted to raise children, not adults - so true! I think I drove my mother crazy at times, but she was always so proud of me, and she drove me crazy at times, caring about what other people thought. I was also A LOT like her mother, which was probably slightly annoying, heehee!

  6. Dear Wenders, couldn't write back yesterday, mother's day doesn't always bring out the best in me. Suffice it to say one of my favourite book passages and "think on it" ever. Your comment to Lane about appreciating your parents far more if you get to have them around past 30 very true. It's easier to recognize their adult, not just parentals, unique selves better that way. A fan of Bud since the early days of this blog, but now adding your mum to the people to say hello to in the Maritime hereafter list too. (You just know there is a kitchen party somewhere in the big beyond.) I think it must have been very hard for our female parents in the generations between happy post-war housewife and full on empowered women's lib, having and valuing a higher education, but not always getting a lot of respect for it, being independent in small towns where there was so much pressure to confirm to the ideals of, "what others think" homogeneity...Also funny how we opposite our parents, absorb some of very passions they couldn't be mithered with. They didn't cook -- apart from a few showpiece dishes phew -- so we come to love the kitchen.

    Side note -- also love me a Hummingbird cocktail. Let's have some this summer...with sparkly sandals friend.

    1. It's a date! I just blamed you on my new purse fetish in today's blog post! :-)


Kindness is a virtue...