Two weeks ago I turned 46. Almost half a century old. So I am grown up enough, one would say. For my mom I am still her child, and in return she is mine. In July she is turning 80.
I really don’t know how to express my feelings about this new reality, except that it is tough for me to accept. With her almost 80 years, my mom is still super smart, brave, she is full of life, power and energy. She is still the superwoman that she has always been. Yet, she is also so small, so fragile, so forgetful, so intimidated, so tired, so slow…When we are together, I feel urged to protect her from all potential dangers around as if she were my child. Watching out when crossing the street, walking in baby steps to catch her pace, cutting her food because she is overwhelmed with it…Not that she is asking me to do all these things. On the contrary, she is a strong and proud woman, who wants to do everything herself. It has always been difficult for her to accept help, but now the limits are blurring for her to fight, or to gracefully accept the offer.
Just so you know my mother: she is a fighter, she is an outlier, she is powerful, intelligent, sensible and sensitive, and she loves unconditionally.
Her and my dad got divorced when I was 7, so she brought me up alone. I must add the greatest support of my grandma and my aunt. My dad had a difficult personality, which had its impact even after the divorce. We had these family problems, we had financial problems, we had health issues in the family and despite all that my mom gifted me with a wonderful education.
Upon my graduation when I cheerfully announced her that I was planning to go abroad, she never said a word nor has she shown the slightest gesture of disappointment, which many other parents in Turkey would have done. “I invested in you so that you are here for me here when I am old”. None of that. On the other hand, she did everything she possibly could, so that I could purse my dreams. When I told her I was coming back after a year, she told me just to wait and see. She said I should live there where I am happy, since it is my one life, and only mine. I am her only child…
Many years later I went through the same fate she did, I experienced a divorce. I know how hurting that was for her; to see her only child going through the same hardship she once did. Silently but firmly she stood by my side. Never a word of contempt, criticism, questioning my decisions. She was there there for me when I needed her, and she was still there when I did not.
Among a multitude of memories that I have about the two of us, there is one which is very vivid. When I was going to primary school, so I must have been about 7 or 8, which was right after the divorce. She had started working at a private company as executive secretary, so that she could afford my education. Her salary was not enough such that she needed a secondary job. She had always enjoyed driving, and she was a good driver, so she offered that she was going to drive my class school classmates to the school and back for a little extra income. I vividly remember the scenes of being in that car, a small pistachio green Turkish-brand car, with 4 classmates of mine rushing to the school and back home in the afternoon . My mom would drive us before going to work. She would collect us from school, distribute, and go back to her primary work again. Mind that we were in Istanbul, where traffic is always jammed, drivers are careless, traffic rules are only good for the paper.
Now forty years fast forward, I see my mom so tiny and so vulnerable, and I don’t know what to do with it. I am trying teach myself that it is a part of growing up, but it does not stop me hurting. Just so I can do something about it, I am trying to collect memories. I am trying to spend as much time as possible, despite living abroad, which gives both her and myself precious moments to nurture. Those moments do visibly help her now and will continue helping me in the future.
I am a blessed child and a mother at the same time. I never wanted to be a mom. Sometimes I ask myself, if it is because I have seen every single day how extremely difficult is to be a truly good mother, and that I never had the courage to take up the challenge. I will never know. Thank you for being who you are mom, then and now, and thank you for being my mom. I am an outlier as much as you are. I love you.