The things my mum’s done to emotionally scare my sister and I could probably span ten volumes. She was neither a typical Indian mum, nor did she adopt a typically ‘Aussie’ mum approach. She was and still is, quirky and full of spirit.
When I was writing this blog post my sister and I recalled some of the best ‘mum moments’ from our childhood:
- That time she couldn’t decide which way she wanted to turn so she kept going round and round the roundabout. By the time we exited, there were cars waiting for her to finish at every intersection.
- That time she took us skinny dipping on a camping trip because that’s how she’d spent her childhood swimming in rivers in India. I ended up with more mosquito bites than I could count, and my sister nearly got swept down the river.
- That one time she opened a tissue box like this:
Actually, I’m pretty sure this happened twice.
4. All the times she’s repainted household furniture for no good reason. Her latest passion is “distressing” furniture, and my dad loves pointing out that the furniture is probably upset enough about being repainted, without her having to distress it further.
When I was 17 I naturally assumed that I would be different from my mum. I’d hear other women say that they were more like their mum than they thought they would be, but I was sure it was easier for them to say that – they didn’t have my mum. Yet last weekend I picked up some bar stools off Gumtree (Australian Craigslist) and happily got down to sanding and priming them for a fresh coat of bright coral paint.
During high school, I spent a lot of time thinking about how my mum could be like all the other calmer, more poised and organised Aussie mums. The ones that always volunteered for school canteen duty, or the uniform committee. The ones that drove their kids to weekend sports ON TIME and cut oranges into tiny squares for the whole team.
After high school, I spent a lot of time thinking about why my mum couldn’t be more like other migrant parents.
Why didn’t she pressure me into playing an instrument?
Where was all my extra after school tuition?
Where were all my warnings about boys?
About walking home alone late at night?
A few days after I turned sixteen, I got a lip piercing. I walked into the house with a swollen bottom lip and announced what I had done, but she just looked at me and said “okay” (I now understand the nonchalant response; the piercing lasted eight months).
My mum fit neither mould, as I suspect so many migrant mums don’t. My mum worked hard and balanced cooking a meal with a full-time job and her career in Social Policy. I see so many mothers (Pooja being one) that have a sense of motherhood beyond accepted cultural or social norms. They innovate, they adapt, and they work hard to give their kids opportunity. Sure, my mum may not have cut fruit at sports, but she made sure that at least her kids participated in weekend sports. She worked at a job she hated for three years to make sure she could pay the bills and progress her career at the same time.
Everyone has a mum who is or has been embarrassing, unfair, annoying, or frustrating. I’ve come to realise in adulthood, though that woman has a lot to juggle between a family, career, and social responsibilities. And while it scares me to think that might be me one day, I do have an immense amount of respect for and pride in the mum’s around me; my mum, my best friend, my mamis and chachis, buas, and of course my nani and dadi.
My mum may be…unusual, but at least she’ll never be boring. She refuses!