Today is Mother's Day and I am sitting here many many leagues away from where you are, typing out this letter that you will never read because a) you don't know about this blog and b) you are terrified of anything to do with computers and the internet.
I'd just like to say--and tell my dear Readers--that despite the rockiness of our love-hate relationship which I still regard as both a blessing and a curse, I am grateful that you are my mother.
When I was growing up, no one else has:
1. Whooped my ass as hard as you have when I didn't achieve the targets you set for me.
2. Destroyed my self-confidence as deftly as you can do with one fell rebuke.
3. Made me quake in my shoes about every single mistake that I could possibly commit as your daughter
4. Imbued me with as many neurosis as you have with your way with stirring up guilty feelings and taking out your anger at your in-laws on me
5. Provoked me into reacting with rage, resignation and frustration all at the same time with one remark
Even today, as I approach my 26th birthday, you still have the power to achieve no. 2, 3, 4 and 5--no. 1 being physically impossible as we are on different continents--effortlessly over long-distance phonecalls.
And yet, you are also the only person in the world who:
1. Knows that I am ill even though we are so far apart and I haven't called to tell you that I've been feeling lousy just like when you turned around just in time to catch one-year-old me about to pull down a pan of boiling soup.
2. Knows all my basic neuroses, fears, insecurities and mental blocks and talks me through it
3. Keeps my ambitions and thirst to succeed going by reminding me of how important it is to prove to my father's hoity-toity family that I can be better than any of them
4. Quietly supports my feminist ideals and values because you yourself have been stuck in the role of housewife and mother which you resented over the years
5. Told me that I can be anything I want because I can, because I've inherited your style and because I can whoop any boy's ass if I put my mind to it
6. Sacrificed her working life in order to ensure that I had the opportunities to excel by pushing me to do my best not just in school, but in music, art and sport.
I want you to know that until today, I still shed invisible tears and carry an ache in my heart when I remember how you married Daddy to escape an alcoholic father, how Daddy's family mistreated you because you didn't come from a rich family, how you were disappointed by life so often that you worked (too) hard to overcompensate by trying to ensure that your children never disappointed you.
Even as I write this, there is a lump in my throat.
So I will always try to make you proud and to never disappoint you. I am a Rhodes scholar, a prize-winning poet, a novelist-in-waiting, an all-rounder arts person and a solid, well-grounded person because of you. Without you, I would never have come so far in life so fast, and that's the truth of it.
I know that sometimes you think that I am an ungrateful, unfilial brat and I think that you are the most impossible, incomprehensible, infuriating mother anyone could ever have but I love you regardless.
I love you regardless of the fact that you were part of the reason why I had a miserable childhood
I love you regardless of the fact that you sometimes pushed me way too hard.
I love you regardless of the fact that you will never understand why I do the things I sometimes do.
I love you regardless of the fact that you will always give me tough love rather than unconditional love.
Happy Mother's Day, Mummy. I hope that what I have become today has given you some peace of mind and some happiness that will always stay with you as you get older.
You deserve every bit of it.
Cross-posted at Mindscapes, Heartstrings and Soul-searching