Mother's Day

I love Mother’s Day. It falls at a perfect time of year for me, when all our flowering trees and shrubs are in bloom, the hardy seeds have sprouted in the garden, and I hear from, and sometimes spend real quality time, with my kids.

By Mother’s Day I have received, and drooled over, two Lee Valley gardening catalogues. The local garden centres are open. Most years there is a lift of bagged topsoil on my driveway ready to top up my raised beds. On Mother’s Day, when my daughter Rachel is around, we spend the day moving that topsoil and planting beans, carrots, and the like, and then enjoy an iced tea on the deck. Of course this year I won’t have her help with the topsoil since they live in Kamloops now, but then I didn’t order a lift of topsoil this year either.

After a good day gardening, I go to work at the Star, where we serve many mothers and their families a lovely meal. I really enjoy that part of the day as well, with the happy chatter and beaming moms.

All this focus on mothers has caused me to think about my mother and the legacy she left. She died young, at 67, and suddenly, so I didn’t get all the family stories and recipes I wanted, but she left a less concrete, and more valuable legacy behind. She was a teacher, and delighted in awakening the fire for knowledge in young people. She had a keen mind and a political bent, so we had many interesting discussions about Canadian and American politics. (I can just imagine what she would have to say about the current presidential primary race.) I don’t remember a time when I was not aware of political events – the Suez Canal crisis, Franco’s Spain, the flag debate.

My mother was not a hugger – she was raised by a very proper Victorian grandmother. While positive and supportive, she was not lavish with her praise. She was measured in her opinions and prepared to change her mind given new information. I only saw her cry once, and unfortunately I was the cause of her tears. She was a good mother; she fed and clothed us well, sewed many of our dresses, she taught us about where food comes from and how to darn a sock.

She made sure we wore white gloves and white shoes only between Easter and Labour Day. She inspired our minds and taught us to set our goals high. She forgave us our pecadillos readily and easily, although she often asked the dreaded question, “what do you think you should do?”

Like my mother, I try to be positive and supportive. I try to make well-considered decisions and to show flexibility in my thinking. I enjoy vibrant discussions about a range of topics, and encourage my children to use their brains. I forgive easily. But, I am a hugger. I cry easily and wear my heart on my sleeve. My husband thinks I’m a pushover for a sad story. I’m not really, but I do see the value in kindness.

And now Rachel is a mother. Like my mother, she has a keen mind and is a natural teacher. Like me, she is a hugger. This visible link between generations of mothers makes me cry, and swell with pride.

Happy Mother’s Day.