A Few Charms (Banner)

A Few Charms (Banner)

Friday, 16 May 2014

Who inspires you? A reflection on Mother's Day

When I was first pregnant, before even knowing I was carrying twins, my husband and I visited my brother and his wife who live a few hours away from us in Montreal. We were excited to see our new nephew and celebrate my sister-in-law's first Mother's Day. We visited the beautiful Botanical Garden, and I'll always remember the group of us sitting under a cherry tree in full bloom. I have associated Mother's Day with cherry blossoms ever since. And so my mother-daughter bracelet started with the cherry blossom muranos and clips.
Where I live in Ottawa we have a large research facility in the heart of the city called the National Experimental Farm, which is a working farm, over 100 years old, as well as an agricultural museum, arboretum and flower garden. Now that I am a mom myself, we always spend some time at "the farm" on Mother's Day. I take pictures of cherry and apple blossoms and my kids climb trees in the arboretum. Unfortunately we had a very long cold winter this year and the trees were not in bloom last weekend for Mother's Day, so these photos are from last year.

I'm not much of a soft pink sort of lady, so in planning my cherry blossom mother-daughter bracelet I decided to bring out the red in the muranos and use oxidized charms for a little "edge." I wanted to wear both parts of the mother-daughter dangles myself, to represent two of my most important jobs in life, being a mother to my twins AND being a daughter to my mother who passed away six years ago. When I look at those dangles now, I remember that my mother always said, "I'm lucky to have such a good daughter." I didn't always feel like I was a "good daughter," especially in the last five years of her life when I was trying to juggle caring for my young twins and caring for an aging parent, in the typical mode of the "sandwich generation." 

When my mother moved from my hometown to a retirement home in my current city, it wasn't long before our roles became reversed and I was the "parent" taking care of her. And there was a lot to do. My mother wore hearing aids, which needed cleaning and new batteries, and eventually were replaced with digital ones. She was legally blind and used a white cane; although once she was here, her mobility had been reduced to the point where she always used a walker and eventually a wheelchair. Before moving here she had had numerous osteoporotic fractures in her spine, and a number of falls, resulting in fractures of her wrist and ankle. After living here for just a year she had a more serious fall that resulted in a hip fracture. At that time we also saw behaviours that led eventually to a diagnoses Alzheimer Disease, a big blow to all of us.

The next year, while trying to close a curtain in her room, Mom lost her balance and fell into a wall, dislocating her shoulder and breaking her collarbone. Because of the Alzheimer's she was pretty "confused" by that point and as we arrived at the hospital in the ambulance she said, "Weren't we just here last week?" I told her that it had been a year, almost to the day, since she'd been here after breaking her hip. Mom always managed to keep her sense of humour and thought it was pretty funny that the doctor was teasing her that her injuries were consistent with a hockey player being slammed into the boards. Of course she told him she was too old for that, she was 65!  I gently corrected her and said she was almost 80. Her response was, "Well damn, I thought I was younger than that! How did that happen?" 

One of my mother's greatest joys was becoming a grandmother, first to my brother's son, and then 8 months later to our twins. She was always excited to hear stories about my twins - and she shared them with anyone who was willing to listen! One of the things I miss most about her is talking to her about my kids. She was always so positive about my parenting, and frequently told me I was a "great mother."

All this to say, I use the red heart dangles to try to remember what my mother would want me to say to myself: "I was a good daughter, and I am a great mother." I still need constant reminding! My children gave me the new "rose garden" clip and openworks "abundance of love" charm for Mother's Day this year, finishing my "Flower Power" bracelet.
A few years ago my daughter was doing a school project and asked me, "Who inspires you Mommy?" My answer was that both she, Taylor, and my Mom were my biggest inspirations, because they were both so resilient (she wrote in her project that I was HER inspiration, by the way.). Some of these charms on my "Flower Power" bracelet were originally earned in my recovery from my eating disorder, and they now represent some of the lessons I want to pass on to Taylor. But they also represent the lessons I have learned from my daughter, and from my mother, my greatest teachers and inspirations.

Who inspires you?

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