As a teenager and young adult, I was filled to the brim with normal coming of age angst. As is often recommended by therapists and self-help books, I often took a look back at my childhood and parents to figure out what was wrong with me! Of course, I found multiple probable causes for any real or imagined neuroses I had as I worked through those trying years. Unfortunately, we have so much more material on the parent who stayed, the parent who was there day in and day out, which for me was, and still is, my mother.
Now in my early thirties, I’ve come to realize a couple truths:
Nobody has a perfect childhood.
Everybody has a story to tell.
These days, I find myself pretty damn pleased with who I am and where I am in my life, and I find myself naturally wondering and coming up with many rich answers as to how my mother contributed to creating the woman I am and the circumstances I’ve manifested for myself today.
Here are just a few of her traits I was lucky enough to inherit:
My mother was a single mother of five children in a very conservative time and place, but that didn’t stop her from being an entrepreneur, earning her doctorate degree, and having several successful career paths. I never thought for a second that there was anything I couldn’t do because I was a female or a minority or for any other reason. I’m not afraid to reach for the stars; I don’t know how not to.
I’m no expert in the field, but I have a hunch that many women who have issues associated with body image get some of these ideas from their mothers criticizing themselves or their appearance. My mother has always complimented my looks and her own genuinely and regularly and this confidence radiates through her and her three beautiful daughters. Yes, I just called myself beautiful.
Recognizing Me as a Whole Person:
Although Mummy (as we say in the Caribbean) often complimented my looks, she never stopped there. I knew my worth was so much more than that. I was recognized for my writing ability, my intelligence, my efforts at school, my decision-making and countless other facets that many people often fail to recognize, especially in girls.
Someone once called me “fiercely independent”, one of the best compliments I think I’ve ever received! Instantly, my mother flashed before my eyes. I can’t think of anyone who walks, dances, and marches to the the beat of their own drum like she does…except maybe for my siblings and me.
So I don’t look back anymore and try to pinpoint what was wrong with my childhood. That would be like trying to find fault with clouds on a beautiful day when they contribute just as much beauty to the skies. Instead I look at how happy and grateful I am for where we all are and it’s so much better and so much more than many would ever hope for.
I look at the qualities I have at the age of 33 that most women take a lifetime to acquire. I have the chutzpah and the wherewithal to get through any adverse situation and the wisdom to enjoy this sweet, unpredictable life to the fullest. Now I know it may not be conventional or socially acceptable to speak of myself in such glowing terms, but I’m more than okay with that and I know exactly why…