Sunday, May 11, 2014

Things my mother gave me

1. When I was a really little kid, my mum didn't run at all. It was my dad who got up at the crack of dawn to knock off 10 or 20km and then come back and take me out 'jogging'. It wasn't till I was ten, my mum told me, that she started running - mostly to prove my dad wrong when he teased her: 'You're so lazy!' Now, my mother cannot possibly be accused of being lazy, because she runs pretty much every day, 4 or 5km at a pretty good clip, and often twice a day. And does regular strength workouts. Talk about role model.

2. All of the women in my family are incredibly, pigheadedly stubborn.

3. And professionally accomplished career role models for their kids. Edit: My sister and I would probably have turned out all right either way. I realised only a lot later that not every kid had parents who both went off to work every day. And she confessed that she suffered a great big dose of mum-guilt when I would bawl as she went off to work.
Then again, I probably bawled because she was the one who spent most time with me when I was very small. And if your usual primary caregiver suddenly takes off for several hours a day and you're two years old, you're probably going to bawl. Why doesn't society put the same sort of pressure on fathers?

4. And what we lack in genetic predisposition to athleticism, we make up for in sheer bloody-mindedness.

5. An understanding of what privilege is. My mum was the first person in her family to go to university, and paid her way through it by tutoring younger kids.

6. A love of books and of reading and learning. (This extends to both parents and a lot of my family. One aunt, who is 73, managed to get a biochemistry PhD after having two children because, as she put it 'I just liked learning so much I didn't really want to stop'.)

7. Allowing me to stick with ballet lessons and drop the piano, because I was a terminally restless kid who could not sit still to practice.

8. Not being (too much of) a tiger mum. Or a helicopter parent.

9. I have to admit that the term 'mamalete' makes me twitch and think of Marmite or marmalade, but I like the notion.

Happy Mother's Day! 


  1. 'Mamalete' makes me want to barf. But inspiring and wonderful mums are always to be celebrated. Lovely post.

    1. Thanks, Cathryn! Haha, I actually have physical reactions to language abuse - I start itching, or get queasy... and certain words are definite triggers for an allergic reaction.