As performed at International Women's Day Celebration by Brigid | 2023
When I think of WOMAN, I think of my mother.
When I think of my MOTHER, I think:
For me, WOMAN and MOTHER are one and the same.
The MOTHER who held me up my whole life is the WOMAN I lean on.
When you’re not a mother and you lose your mother, your relationship with the word has no choice but to shift.
It still means all of the things it used to mean.
It’s just weighted differently.
It’s an emptiness at first… Followed by a desperate need to be filled.
It’s an echo in search of an embrace.
It’s past tense… but ever present.
You know that feeling of coming home after a long, stressful day – when your feet are aching and you’re exhausted – and you settle into that perfect you-shaped groove on your couch – with your favourite blanket and your pup on your lap?
That’s what my mother was for me.
That safe place.
That long exhale...
She was my comfort zone.
My anchor, my cheerleader, my confidante…
And, though I still feel her here with me every day – and hear her voice in my head when I veer off track – it’s hard to navigate your way through life without your compass.
I count myself very lucky to have a rolodex of thirty-nine years of happy memories with a mother and best friend that I can pull from at any moment.
Memories of concerts and road trips and those hugs where her chin would tuck right into that ticklish spot on my neck.
The mornings sipping tea and chatting with my ma – with Mandolin Rain on the record player in the background – are replaced with sipping alone and reflecting in awe of her incredible resilience through the toughest days. Her sense of humour right to the end. Her courage.
I have spent a lot of my life playing it safe despite the fact that life is just too damn short. I’ve convinced myself that I wasn’t good enough, that I didn’t fit in or deserve a seat at the table. And nobody has tried to set me straight more than my mother. My whole life. Through years of depression, anxiety, irrational thinking… She always treated me with so much love, grace, kindness, patience and forgiveness. Even when I wasn’t easy to love.
She told me over and over again how much she wished I could give myself that same grace and see myself through her eyes.
As I said one final good-bye to my mum – and in the months and months of grief, loneliness and self-reflection since – I think I finally do.
I finally “get” what she’d been telling me and the kindness she’d been modeling for me all those years.
All those times when I was sitting off in the corner because I didn’t quite “fit in” at the family reunion.
Or I didn’t want to go to school because I was “sick”.
Or I “really should do that (fill in the blank) because you always have a good time once you get there.”
Though a lot of my memories from this time might be blurry, this one remains very clear: In those final moments in mum’s hospital room, a feeling (or a message or a wave, whatever you want to call it) washed over me... I am a warrior because of this woman.
I am already enough.
I’ve said the words, I’ve stuck the quote on my wall, I’ve dropped it into a powerpoint presentation or two, but it finally hit me in that moment:
I am enough.
I’m sad that it took her leaving us for me to realize what she’d been trying to teach me all along…
I know it’s easier said than done. I know that I’ll stumble more than once (and already have). But, I also know that it’s time to finally listen to my ma. To do what she has been training me for my whole life:
Because the reality is, I’ll never be the same person I was before she left us. But, if I can get through the rest of my life by walking the path that my mum carved out for me – by being kind, authentic and brave – just like she was – then I’ll be just fine.
When I think of WOMAN, I think of…
My north star.
My eternal guide.
As a mental health advocate, this blog is dedicated mostly to my experiences living with depression and anxiety.