Mother’s Day has always been an awkward time for me. Not because I don’t have one, because I do. Actually the problem is, if you can really call it a problem, is that I sort of have two.
My paternal grandmother is a rock star. At least she is to me. She’s raised me since I was six-months-old, when my actual mother was unable to care for me. Mum, as she is widely known, is very popular among my friends. Rarely do I meet anyone without them asking about her. A friend recently told me she seemed like an almost mythical figure because they had never actually met but she felt like she knew her.
My grams, she’s everything you would want in a grandmother, an amazing cook, incredibly generous, and just plain soutouwez, as my aunts love to say. But she is not your typical ‘granny’. In fact that word is illegal in our world. The lady is quite modern and actually pretty cool. She’s conversant on any topic, prefers Kanye West to Jay-Z, knew Heidi Klum and Seal would totally break up, and like me, is a sports fan. In fact, she loves needling me when one of my favourites falter. Which is exactly why she called me early one morning to gloat after my beloved Yankees’ loss.
My mother is a different story. I didn’t see her much growing up so we did not have any real relationship to speak of. I didn’t know why she left and was quite frankly very resentful. My grandmother always encouraged me to visit, but I was always reluctant. Besides our uncanny resemblance, what did we have in common? Even stranger was that during any conversations with my sisters, they would always refer to her as ‘my mother’ while I called her by her first name. While I’m sure it wasn’t the intent, I always felt like some sort of interloper. Our interactions always felt stilted and empty.
As I got older and people asked about it, I would always get annoyed when they suggested that it was time to resolve it. Why? I thought. It doesn’t bother me. I especially hated Mother’s Day and actively refused to call or acknowledge her existence on that day. I did not think she had earned the right.
When I went off to university, she called off and on. At that point I wasn’t angry but definitely cautious. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t want to communicate with her. I was wary of any closeness because in my mind, letting her in would be a betrayal to my grandmother who had spent her life filling the void that my mother had left all these years ago.
Devastation hit when my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has since successfully conquered it and surprisingly, it came with a silver lining. During that time, my mother started calling to check in, a small gesture that soon evolved into extensive conversations. When I returned home, it was suddenly not unusual for me to walk in and find them in a tête-à-tête. When my mother started inviting me to Sunday lunch, I no longer felt apprehensive about it. It was like I had received Mum’s blessing, which is what has always mattered to me.
My mother also seems relieved that I am more receptive. And truth be told, it is the best of both worlds. She is equally as soutouwez. When I come over I always find mashed potato in abundance, Baileys, Heineken, stewed chicken, and every other favourite of mine that she has discovered. She immediately shoos others away from the television so I can have special ‘sport privileges’. And much to the chagrin of my siblings I’m sure, she has on occasion held off on letting anyone eat before I arrive. I can also say she makes the best souse, loves crotchet, and like me, has a predilection for bad romance novels.
So this Mother’s Day will not be the normal navigation through a minefield. It will be all kinds of awesome because not only can I chill with Mum, but I can finally call her my mother without hesitation. I guess I am pretty lucky!