I think my mother is a superhero..
Three years ago, our family life was very different to what it is now. We were living in Canada, in a gorgeous 6 bedroomed, 3 storey house that my parents owned. We had multiple cars on the driveway, a full bar in our basement, and we were together as a family. My mum had a successful career as a Realtor, and she drove around in her brand new Jeep and fancy clothes.
Today we are living in two different countries in two different rented bungalows. We have cars that are falling apart, and I personally have to now frequently take the bus, and I use an old-school flip phone. Our families are split between Canada and England, and we no longer live as that family unit. My mum is living in England on her own, driving a 2004 Nissan Micra, and wearing baggy, branded t-shirts to work at a dusty yard.
Up until recently, I was very worried about her. My brother, step dad and I are all living in Canada, and while it’s very hard to be away from mum, I couldn’t imagine how she was feeling. Our family is ridiculously close — any time together is full of laughter, fun, and support. Mum is best of friends with both my brother and I, and we spend our time together singing ballads in the car, having dance offs / cake fights in the kitchen, and throwing some great parties. It’s hard to live without that.
My mum has had a tough year. Among other things, around April she was in the hospital for a week due to stress and had to have an emergency operation. She also lost her father in May, has taken on his business, and is now running a rock and reclamation yard. She has invested a lot of money and time into the business, and as hard as it is to do without the support of her husband and children, she cannot give that up. What she has given up, in order to make this work, is her house, her career, and her life.
I recently came back to England for six days. It was a ridiculously short and busy trip, but one morning mum and I had the chance to have a cup of tea and lay in bed talking for hours. We discussed our situation and how scary and uncertain it all was, and If I’m honest, I expected her to be falling apart. I expected her to be on the verge of giving up, and dwelling in her situation every day. But I should have known better; this is my mother we are talking about, and I’ve never seen her fall apart or give up before. As we spoke, the scariness and uncertainty of it all suddenly became excitement. We came to realise that we had broken out of our comfort zones, and we were all doing something new, and creating so many possibilities. Why do we have to play it safe; where is the fun in that? Don’t people say that life is about living — taking chances and finding fulfillment? It’s not going to be easy at times, but it will grow us as people, and potentially change our lives for the better. Who knows where we could go, or what we could achieve next?
Mum mentioned that the two things she missed were her house, and our family dynamic. I reminded her that 5000 miles isn’t going to come between our special connections, and this is all very temporary. We are all doing things to make our lives better. We also discussed that owning her house was insignificant — one thing I’ve learned from constantly escaping my problems and flying between England and Canada, is that we don’t live in our houses, we live in our heads. That’s the place you need to work on to make you happy, comfortable and fulfilled. Besides, my mum has had a mortgage since she was 17 — it’s about time she was free from that commitment. I hope she is enjoying that freedom.
While Mum has some incredible support, many don’t quite get our new gypsy lifestyle. That’s fair enough — it is unusual. We hop on planes like they’re buses, and nobody ever knows where any of us are, or how long we are there for. My parents are still together, but they live apart. We have all had to start over. There’s been times when I’m down to my last $2 and I don’t have a job. It’s ridiculous, and stupid, and scary, and exciting. We are a trans-Atlantic, fickle, nomad family. To me, this is what life is about — experience, self growth, taking chances, facing adversity and coming through it with a better outlook on life. Being grateful for what we have, and not constantly looking for happiness in material things. At times your bank account may be empty, but at the same time your heart, mind and soul is so full.
Mum is doing a fantastic job with the business, and continuing to make her dad proud. Her story regarding that is just one of many incredibly inspiring things she’s achieved in her life. She came over to England a year ago when her dad was ill, and she spent time with him in his last remaining months. His rockery yard was his pride and joy and he worked there until a few months before he died, at 82 years old.
Like her father, my mum is full of ambition, drive and determination. She promised him that she would take over the business once he was gone, and she did just that — putting all her own time and money into it. Knowing nothing about the rock business, she didn’t just take it over, she put everything into it and completely transformed the yard. I’ve seen my mother do this kind of thing my whole life, but when I visited recently, I was blown away.
Our family have never lived life “traditionally” — we have lived in different countries, travelled more than we can afford, and jumped around in careers and started up businesses without much thought. My mum has been a journalist, and a Realtor. She’s self-published two books (including a cook book, about which she knows nothing!) and she has run a bar in Spain. She’s owned a jacket potato stall on Brighton Pier, and she has imported and sold Mexican chimineas at trade shows. She’s even dabbled in professional gambling (haha!). Every single one of those things she did successfully, so I have no doubt whatsoever, she can make her new venture work.
Of course I miss our big house, and having a car, and nice clothes; but not one tiny part of me wants to be back where we were. How could I when we have all grown, challenged ourselves, made new friends, traveled, and lived new experiences. Why would I want to be doing the same thing I was 3 years ago, or the same thing for the rest of my life? Three years ago I felt comfortable and secure, but I also felt stagnant.
Honestly, this is the most uncertain time of Mum’s life, and I know there will be times when she’s not very self assured, and maybe she will regret some of her decisions. But all I can say to my Mum is this: seriously — take a look at who you are, and how successful you have been all your life. You faced some adversity in your childhood, but you’ve managed to overcome it all and become this incredibly brave, strong person. You’ve had a very tough year, but you have turned it all around, and remained happy and positive. You’ve created the most amazing family dynamic and given your children everything they could have wanted out of life. You’ve made us happy, and allowed and encouraged us to live our lives to the fullest — and what more could you ever do for us? You’ve always done the right thing, and you always land on your feet, and this is no exception. I thought leaving you in England alone, without us, would be extremely hard, but I’ve left feeling so excited for you, and what this business could become. You have started over, and while that is scary for most — if anyone can do it, it’s you.
My mother may not have the physical strength of a super hero, but her mental strength could withstand anything.
She may not have X-ray vision, but she can see what she wants and she goes after it.
She may not be able to fly, but she has the capability to take herself anywhere she wants to go in life.
I can’t wait to see where that is.