When I was growing up, I didn’t see a lot of my mother. We were well-off so she was always out gallavanting with friends, flying to different countries, buying different clothes, and just generally finding new ways to spend money.
Was my mother a bad mother? No, not by a long shot. She was generous to us with both her emotions and finances, and she was fair and quick to discipline. She was there to celebrate our successes, and to tend to our bruises, cuts and scrapes. When our family wasn’t doing well, she made sure that we kids never felt the pinch no matter how tight things were for her and our father. In fact, it wasn’t until over a decade later that any of us knew we’d ever been in financial trouble.
But my mum was also unhappy and short-tempered, so it was always difficult to predict her mood swings. She’d be perfectly okay one moment but then the smallest things could set off the biggest rages…how I put down my fork, how I scraped my chair back, running my hands along a wall, how I shut a door, how I held my pen…literally the smallest things.
As I grew older, I began to see even less of my mother but the reasons started to change. She met Rinpoche and she decided she had had enough to living selfishly, and wanted to do something for others. So she devoted herself to the Dharma centre, doing whatever needed to be done to keep Kechara going.
So even though I saw less of my mother, when I did see her, I noticed that she was considerably happier and more even-tempered. She would still put up a fight if she felt an injustice was being committed, and she wouldn’t hesitate to shout at us to instil some discipline.
But the difference was that she stopped doing it as a reaction to some other part of her life that wasn’t going so well.
Why I love my mother is simple - she never keeps the truth from us. When I was 15, my mother told me, “If I knew back then what I know now, I never would have had you kids. I am now spending over 20 years dedicating my life to just three people, when I could’ve have spent 20 years dedicating my life to so many more.”
Most people would think that that’s sick, weird and twisted, and something totally inappropriate to tell your child. Well, you know what? When my mother told me that, it made me respect her all the more.
Why? 1) she had the courage to tell me that, and she knew I’d understand, 2) that is how great her capacity to love is.
If a child is supposed to get a mother’s unconditional love, and my mother is saying that actually, EVERYONE deserves her unconditional love, you do not know how lucky you are that my mother thinks that way of you. She will stand up for you when you’re down, make sure you learn the right lessons about life and teach you to stand on your own two feet…and you didn’t even have to come from her womb.
That’s the kind of person my mother is. So my mother might not be the richest, smartest, prettiest or most well-connected in the room but I KNOW my mother will always be the kindest wherever she goes, and that’s why I love my mother.