Commonly you will hear of great parents that tell their kids: “You can do anything you put your mind to.”
And I feel really blessed because I am the product of two parents who repeatedly told me that over the course of my life. However, I feel maybe just one step ahead because not only did my parents verbally say those words – my mum proved it.
My parents divorced when I was 2 years old. I have never harboured resentment about this fact – it was always just the way it is. I was raised, with my little brother, primarily by my mum in Saskatoon and we would see dad on major holidays and breaks from school as he lived in Alberta.
[I want to preface before I begin, in case I accidentally imply otherwise, that my dad is and always has been a huge part of my life – even if he physically was not always able to be. My dad has shaped much of my moral system, my beliefs and my ambition. He’s both appealed to and likely instilled the systematic logic I have, as well as emphasized the importance of honesty, hard work and pursuing that which is important to you.]
Over the course of my life my mum has never made a ton of money – quite the opposite in fact. She didn’t have a secondary education so the employment opportunities were modest. It was only as an adult that I have come to realize how empty our fridge was growing up (but I never starved!) – and I never knew how financially challenged we were. I was aware of not having indulgent things that some of my friends had (trips to Disneyland or Mexico etc) but I usually didn’t think twice about it.
As an adult, I am much more aware of my mum’s life: her childhood, her past and the things she’s gone through; and it’s really amazing to me that these truly awful experiences she had and overcame never identified her. I didn’t even know about most of them until I was quite a bit older. If she struggled (and I’m sure she did) – she never let me or my brother know. I don’t recall my mum ever venting about how hard it was, blaming anyone or ever even being negative in general. She always just made it work.
I don’t know how she did it, but my mum raised two kids on a very low income. Somehow, she managed to not only qualify for a mortgage, but to sustain it and keep up with the cost of maintaining a home. And probably the most amazing piece: she decided to go to university (when I was about 10 years old – and she was 32). Can we consider for a small moment how incredible that is? Firstly, it was considerably less common at that time for adults to go to university. Not to mention a single parent with two kids, single (low) income and primary custody. She somehow had to work, pay the bills, go to school, do homework, raise us and still have somewhat of a social life. (I’m certain the latter suffered the most)
My mum did what many people would say is impossible. She didn’t make excuses – there was no such thing as “I can’t afford it.” “I don’t have time.” “It’s too hard.” – even though these would’ve all been very valid. The way I see it: my mum saw a crossroads. You can continue to have a mediocre life. Or you can buckle down for a few years, take some shit head on – and have a great one. She sacrificed so much and those sacrifices taught me something that I am SO grateful to know: Life is worth it. A good life is worth the struggle, worth the hurt, worth the challenge. That though it may be simpler, easier, to live in mediocrity – with what is good enough – it is ultimately more gratifying and more worthwhile to live to your fullest potential.
And she has. My mum has a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing, a Master’s Degree in Agriculture and Economics, as well as her PHD. She’s been published multiple times in text books, magazines and online articles. She is well respected in her field. She’s innovative, intelligent, funny and is committed to helping the everyman by overturning the spread of misinformation. And the coolest part of all of this: my mum is a GREAT mum. She managed to be this amazing person, in her own right – and yet always, always put Hayden and I first. I know I can count on my mum for absolutely anything, at any time.
So, in light of it being the most famous day of extending thanks: Thank you to my parents who created the environment that supported the growth of my strong sense of self. Who have supported me when I have made decisions (the good, the bad and the ugly) – who have always let me have the freedom to make mistakes, and whom I have always known would be there for me when I figured it out.
And thank you mum – for not just telling me – but showing me that you can do absolutely. F**king. Anything.