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My earliest vivid memory of my mother is of her playing pithoo. We were one of 2 immigrant families living in lily white upstate NY, and my mother had rounded up 10 American kids to play this, the most desi-est of games, with her too-American-for-her-liking 10-year-old.
Everyone wanted to be on my mother’s team of course, she was always the best at everything. She never failed to hit the haphazardly piled up stones. Ever. She was the person you invariably found crouching by the broken pile of rocks, arranging all 7 stones feverishly, always to emerge triumphant with the declaration “Pithoo!” That's her. That’s my mother.
When I was eight, she mounted a framed poster on my bedroom wall. It was of a grid of green apples. There in the center stood 1 red apple. The poster read “Dare to be Different.” I never really understood the depth of that message till I was much older. What a cool poster to put on your eight-year-olds wall! I saw that poster every morning when I woke up, and in some ways that message has defined my life. I am drawn to the other, the different. I celebrate and welcome the differences that make up this world. That’s me. My mother’s daughter.
I thought about her recently at my sons friend's birthday party, which was at a water park. I was the only mother in a swimming costume. All the other moms were glamorously dressed, sweating under the harsh mid-day sun, and there I was, wearing my too-old Speedo, whizzing down the water slides with my boys. Yes, I was probably looking crazy, totally juvenile, and gasp, getting far too tanned when viewed through the sunglasses of the moms who were hiding from the sun under their umbrellas. But that’s me, my mother’s daughter.
I remember when I had my first child and she came to stay with me for 3 months. My son had a bad case of colic and used to keep me awake all night. I have visions of her running up and down the length of the room through the night, carrying my son in a Moses basket because that’s the only way he would stop crying. She did that for weeks! And I know she did that for me. So that her baby could get some sleep. That’s her. That’s my mum.
What else can I tell you about her? She makes the most delicious bites of food. She can make the most confident, staid people, absolutely bewildered for her own amusement. I can dream the most impossible dream and she will try to make it happen. She will go out of her way for those closest to her. She can wriggle her ears, one at a time. I've never met a woman more beautiful than her. She never runs out of energy. Ever. No matter what trouble I get in to, there she is, by my side. She will be angry with me, but she never will judge me. And that means everything.
It’s odd how we tend to dismiss mothers who are always there for you. If you are like me, you tend to take them slightly for granted. One of my mom's favourite lines is “love should be expressed in paragraphs not epitaphs.” Slightly morbid but true, especially in this Facebook era. So here you are mother, my words of appreciation, in more than one paragraph. Happy Mother’s Day to the dope mom who made me. Thanks for being you, and thanks for making me, me.