My mother has always ruled the household with an iron fist. Her parents lived through a World War so living in scarcity and preparing for the worst were simply Parenting 101 survival tactics passed down to her. Strict rules applied in nearly all circumstances.
One of the first memories I had of my mother was when she made me one of those gorgeous Women’s Weekly birthday cakes for my fourth birthday. I went over to have a look, and she yelled at me to not go near the kitchen and I would get a smack if I dared come in again. I was expected to be obedient at all times. Even if I didn’t exactly understand why…
When I was 9, I was best friends with a girl at a school who had just moved from England. She always wanted to ring her parents to let her know she arrived safely at my house since she walked alone (gone are those days right?). These phone calls didn’t last longer than a minute, but my mum got furious that she was ringing every time at an expense (er 25 cents back in the day??) so she forced me to tell my friend that she couldn’t use the phone anymore.
After that, this girl turned on me and became the most popular and meanest girl in school. I had to endure bullying from her until I left high school. So even though I don’t blame my mother for this mean girl’s actions, I can’t help but think how things could have been different…
In high school I was never allowed many clothes as my mum insisted on buying limited things from stores such as Kmart and Target. She also prohibited me from dying my hair and plucking my eyebrows. I struggled with her ultra strict and conservative ways and went absolutely crazy and rebelled during my late teens as I couldn’t handle all the rules anymore.
I still get frustrated at how my mum never drives outside a 10km radius away from her house – yes and that includes to my home. She also only eats Chinese food which is annoying when we do go out (she even demanded to know where the Chinese restaurants were in Florence). To this day, I can’t really talk to her on the same level as we don’t have much in common with each other. We usually disagree on most things and just end up getting angry at each other.
But after all these years it somehow works. I know I can no longer live under the same roof as her but she helps and supports me like no other. There is no doubt in my mind that she loves me even though her views and rules are very old fashioned. But you know what? I get why she is a bit crazy. Her own mother was even stricter and there was limited opportunities for my mother or her siblings to further their education. My mum had to raise 5 kids including my 2 autistic brothers all whilst being a SAHM with no support (I don’t never recall being babysat). She also had to spend a long time in a tiny Pilbara town away from her family and having very limited English skills. Life hasn’t exactly been easy for her and I admire how she kept it all together.
And it has shaped the way I am as well. I might not be as tight as her with money but I know how to save but I reward myself as well – something I don’t think she does enough of for herself. Not having anything I wanted probably fuelled my desire to be independent with my finances and that I shouldn’t depend on anyone (i.e parents, bf, husband etc) for handouts or presents and to just work hard to look after myself the way I want.
So even though my mother doesn’t read this blog, I want to let her and the whole world know that I love and appreciate all the love she has given me – even though there are certain times in my life where I doubted this as her strict parenting style has caused disagreements in the past. But tough love is still no doubt true love and the past is now the past. And we can only learn from this and to move forwards and upwards. I love you back Mum.
Happy Mothers Day to all the mums out there by the way!