08 May 2011

My Maman

My maman. She's a truly incredible woman. She is brave, fearless and strong, she loves with her whole self. As her child or her grandchild you know she will literally do anything for you. 

My maman grew up in 1940s and 1950s Quebec, Canada, in a working class family. She is the oldest of six children, 5 girls and one boy. In her twenties, looking for something new and different, she went travelling in Europe, she met my father whilst in England and didn't leave for over thirty years.

My mum unfortunately suffered in her marriage, the victim of emotional and verbal abuse for twenty years. She stayed for various reasons. As a victim of abuse and someone living apart from any family it is harder than it sounds to take your kids and leave. Now that I am a mother living in a foreign country I have a much deeper understanding of just how trapped she must have felt. 

She worked so hard when I was a kid, working full time from when we started school yet never shirking on her responsibilities to us. She exposed us to everything she could, art exhibitions, ice skating, horse riding, hiking, swimming, the ballet, classical music concerts. She was always there with a hug and a kiss to listen to any problem we had. My maman was my home, my safe place. She still is except for I now have a home with my family. At the weekend when my brother and I would lie in till late, at twelve o clock she would put loud French music on and sing and dance around the house. What a joyous way to wake up. We moaned about it but we loved it really. Basically a better, more loving, supportive and fully committed mother you couldn't hope to find. She never tried to push us, just encouraged us in whatever endeavor we chose, and the same is true today.

When I moved to the USA my maman finally retired and went travelling. Alone she travelled to India, Thailand and Malaysia, and on a later trip to Uruguay, Chile and Argentina amongst other places. It was like Eat Pray Love but on a much grander, braver and more ambitious scale.

When I became a mother myself, it naturally changed our relationship. We have so much more in common now and have a deeper understanding of each other's lives. All of a sudden I really needed her and she was REALLY there for me. She arrived in New York City about a week before our first child was born. When our daughter was born as I've mentioned before, she was extremely ill. My maman looked after my husband and I, she made sure we ate, held our hands, kept our lives ticking along whilst the bottom of our world seemed to be slipping away. Every single day for that first month she trekked to Manhattan with me to visit our baby in the NICU, she shopped, cooked and did all our laundry, she cleaned our house. She provided unending emotional support and never asked for any herself. I don't know how she did it but she was everything we needed and more.

Now my babies are not babies anymore, my mum is still there ready to listen every time I have an idea to share, a bug to bare or a tear to shed. And if I need her, if I really really do need her, oh she'll be here, she's done it before, she'll get on a plane, though her wallet may groan, all the way from Spain to Los Angeles. 

I'm proud to be a strong woman, I hope one day I can be as strong and brave and fearless as my own maman and I wish with all my heart that one day my kids will be as proud of me as I am of her.

Happy Mothers Day Maman, je t'aime Xxx

Big heavy buckets of tears

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