My mother was always very quirky and different. Growing up quirky and different meant fun and carefree – each day was filled with exciting activities or adventurous journeys. I learnt how to knit and make my own clothes, I learnt how to meditate and be at one with myself, I could name every species of butterfly or tree. I was encouraged to be creative and express myself through drawing, playing the guitar and listening to old records – these were just an everyday occurrence. We didn’t have much money, I was an only child and my dad had never really been around – I was influenced fully by my mother’s love and personality and we spent so much time together that I became an little extension of her.
When I started high school, fitting in was the number one aim of every kid. Being different meant you were a target and that mindset was enforced in a quick and rapid way. It was around this time that I started to realise that I didn’t really have the same interests as the other kids. I was a lot more withdrawn – I like to think I was more of an observer and listener than a talker – but all the kids around me seemed outgoing, more worldly and therefore intimidating to me.
As a shy child, I missed the company of my mother when I was at school. I didn’t really feel like I fitted in and my mother was the only person I could truly relate to. I wore bright colourful clothes that didn’t look like anything the others were wearing mainly because my mother had lovingly and painstakingly made them for me. I suddenly didn’t like feeling so different, the comments from others seemed strange but turned into hurt, causing me to question myself and my identity. As I slowly started to make friends, I slowly started to conform to how the other kids behaved and dressed to make sure I didn’t stand out in any way – it was a form of survival and that survival meant rejecting all that my mother had made me.
The rebellion started soon after. I started to resent my mother for creating such a quirky, strange child. Suddenly my creativeness was a negative aspect of me and I was consumed by my idea of fitting in. The relationship with my mother started to break down – I could see the hurt in her eyes as she watched her child dismiss who she was and what she had raised her to be. I was embarrassed to be seen with her for fear people would judge me and label me as eccentric because of the clothes she wore and words she used.
All the way through this period, my mother didn’t once scold me for changing, she kept on loving me despite my sometimes hurtful actions and words, she stepped back and allowed me to be who I wanted to be.
Now I look back on those days with true realisation and understanding of the extent of a mother’s love. I don’t regret conforming and rebelling against who I truly was because I feel going through that only allowed me to find myself again and know for sure what makes me happy. But I do regret hurting my mother in a way I’m not sure she would have expected when she had me all those years ago. Her creativity and adding colour into life, immersing herself in the world around her is something that will never leave me.
As I sit here with my own newborn daughter, wrapped in the blanket I knitted for her, I have every intention of teaching her the things that make me happy – no matter how unconventional they may be. My mother taught me to be unique, creative, kind and see the world in a different way. I will always appreciate the things my mother taught me because they made me the person and mother I am today – a person who is quirky, a person who is different and a person who is proud of that fact.
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