How do you feel about your mother? What do you think of her?
It’s a bit hard to explain. Honestly, this is like asking me to write about life itself. I guess the best way to answer ‘directly’ is to refer to the story she likes to tell, where they took me to a psychologist to see what kind of kid I was. Obviously I have zero recollection of this, but apparently I was always a happy child who drew sunny days with the whole family as stick figures, happy.
Please, if I can ask you for only one favor while you read this, regardless of the language you speak: listen to the songs I am referring to before or after you read each paragraph. I’m choosing excerpts, but only the full tune with lyrics and rhythm can do half justice to the music or to my mom. So you might not owe it to me, but you probably do to my mom and Phil Collins. (And hey, Phil Collins did record a lot of the languages himself rather than having someone else sing it, so please respect some humanitarian work). I’ll save you the work and put links in the headline, the only thing you have to do is click and listen.
“Come stop your crying it will be alright,
Just take my hand, hold it tight.
I will protect you from all around you
I will be here don’t you cry“
The irony of this all is that my mommy cries about eeeeverything?. I almost feel like I am the one who should be singing this to her half the time. Sad movie? **cries** Happy movie? **cries** Angry movie? **cries because “why are humans like this?”** I swear, the only reason why I can’t judge her is because, thanks to her, I’m apparently the same way… (it’s not only our noses that are alike).
If you were to ask me what I remember about my youth, it would certainly have to be a motherly memory. Maybe it was the terror that I felt when she first dropped me off at Kindergarten, (I don’t actually have a rational memory, but rather a blurry image of how the entrance into this thing away from my mom was probably the gateway into hell). Or maybe the happier motherly memory was the fact that during my infancy I had two mothers in the same home (my dad’s mom), and to this day I could never tell you which one did what, but they/she was always there.
But if I had to choose just one memory with my direct mother [rather than grandmother], it would be when we moved to the new house without my grandparents. My mom would cuddle me to sleep while listening to Enya’s “Only Time“, “Orinico Flow“, or “One by One” (confession: it was actually the full CD, I just wanted an excuse to send you all a link to the ones I remember most ?). Add in the fact that Mecano‘s liberalizing lyrics in the Descanso Dominical album still resonate with me at 31, or the fact that the only real concert in my memory was when I was 8 and we went to see Yanni, and you end up with the full explanation for why in my brain:
music = mother/mother = music
“I can see there’s so much to learn,
it’s all so close, and yet so far.
I see myself as people see me,
Oh, I just know there’s something bigger out there.
I wanna know,
can you show me?
I wanna know about these strangers like me.”
You only need to know me for a little while to know that I am [more than a little] strange. And I never ‘grew out of it’ because I never wanted to (more on this at the end). Perhaps the strangest thing though is that I always manage to find the ways in which each of us is a little strange. And it’s glorious.
But exploring, leaving home, and learning can take you so far away from your own heritage that a motherland or culture might never miss you, but it will crush a human mother. I learned this at 18 when I moved for university. The sad part is that it took me a while to learn it. My dad would call saying my mom was crying because she missed me, and I would essentially give a dead-man’s answer in the tone of: “well, I am gone, so deal with it.“
Do you want to know when I actually/finally learned?
I was 30 years old and both my parents had just left after visiting me for the first time. Here’s what I posted on the day they left, after crying the night before. “When will my whole family be united again?” I know mom, I get/feel it now.
“Put your faith in what you most believe in,
two worlds, one family”
Look, I’m not gonna go into the topic of faith. Not yet anyway. But putting faith aside, I can tell you I was the first genuine non-missing link between my common ancestors, so all of that makes perfect evolutionary sense. Maybe it wasn’t primates and humans, but I was the Tarzan that symbolized the union between my mother’s world and my father’s world. If there is one thing I can regret here, it is the fact that my younger brother couldn’t have the same memories and experiences. After a certain age/size, she couldn’t cuddle with both of us at once listening to Enya because we couldn’t all fit. Maybe she did that same thing with him, but she couldn’t possibly do the same things the same way, and I end up with an additional 16 months of privilege.
She also couldn’t feel as crushed about his departure from home because she had practiced with me. Although paradoxically: in some contexts I could feel hurt that I was “merely the practice one” but my brother can feel equally hurt that he didn’t get the raw emotion of a first time. I guess all things have come to a certain balance now that my brother had the first grandchild: his son will be the practice one for the raw-loving grandma while my child will get the more seasoned grandma (Side note: I bet $20 she will still cry a lot though, because thankfully some things never change?).
I am, to put it bluntly, a momma’s boy. I will always be one. Proudly. I might even say I am a momma’s boy^2 (squared) thanks to my grandma’s constant presence. As I said earlier, I know I can be [more than] a little strange, but I never ‘grew out of it’ because I never wanted to. Why would anyone ever ‘outgrow’ their roots or abandon the perfect mother/home that all humans would kill for and most humans die trying to imagine? Sure, I will build my own home/family, but somehow I will never let go of this one either. She’ll be in my heart, no matter what you say, and that’s the whole root of my way of thinking and my approach to life.
If you listen closely to the songs I referenced.
If you have watched the story of Tarzan or know anything about mine.
And if your mother is/was anywhere as motherly as mine, then you’ll know what I mean.
All of us have a mother, so hey, maybe give yours a hug if you can or a call. I won’t be able to hug mine when she gets this.
And maybe hugs and calls are all she/they ever wanted in return for the things mothers do.
Mine wanted something written because I guess she likes written things. Well, now we know for sure which tree this apple fell from, huh? The reason why I hadn’t written about my mom before (even though she explicitly asked me to) is because, to be fair, I have been too busy trying to live like her.
Besides, how do you accurately describe life itself if you can’t project all five senses into the time and space of other people?
I am writing this now because I finally realized that I will never be able to do justice to her life or our bond. As I said, it’s like writing about life itself. Not even the best writers with everything they have collectively could ever show you what life is. Only mothers can [re]create that. So even though I have told you pretty much nothing about her life, her accomplishments, or her glory, it would take me an eternity to cover that.
Maternity/eternity not something that could possibly be described.