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The Goddess Speaks


Tuesday, September 4, 2001

Appreciating the
power of mother

My mother likes to show off her math. One time it was about our birthdays: Her birthday is on April 28; mine is on April 29.

"Today you are 26 years old, exactly half my age."

"Wow" I chimed in, continuing this mental exercise, "that means when I make 52, you will be 104!"

My mother laughed, quick to point out the cuteness of my mathematical miscalculation. "No, it will only happen just this once in our lifetime."

Since then, we have all had fun listening to the "how-Charlot-doesn't-know-her-math" story, up until today when I've made it to 52 and my mom is still beautiful and sharp as ever at 78. She recites proudly, with little prompting, her multiplication tables, forward and backward, like she learned them in grade school, with an attitude of "see if you can keep up with this."

Knowing my mom, it's safer to let her have her say. In fact, I can't remember her ever losing an argument, even when she was obviously wrong about something. She has this death-defying determination to win, always.

Mothers can have a special kind of power over you, if you let them. They can make you beat yourself up, hate yourself. They can mold you, affect you without effort or knowledge on their part, it seems. On the other hand, there is no other who can build you up quite like they do. They are your best cheerleader.

Growing up, it was easiest to worship my dad. My sister, however, has to remind me of my childhood relationship with my mother. She said I used to always cross my eyes and stick my tongue out at my mom when she wasn't looking, and I reported all my complaints about her to my father.

Today, when my own two daughters are overheard, complaining about their mother to their father (my husband), I often feel angry and betrayed, while realizing this is the way I must be repaying my karmic debts.

More important to me is witnessing my three children treasure and love their grandmother, my mother: how they proudly admire her spunk and fight, embrace her honesty and sureness. They love to join in on her card games (even past their bedtime on school nights), share their struggles and triumphs, and are always ready to compete in her mental challenges.

These days, she occupies the warmest spot in their hearts. Not too long ago, my mom called long distance to my children in college on the mainland. How refreshing and fun for her grandchildren to hear her voice and laughter in the midst of homesickness and stress of finals, "Hi, Grandma's here at the airport in Colorado to visit you. Do you want to come pick me up?

"Nah! April Fool!!!"

Now that I've made it to 52 and have become filled with some wisdom and gratitude, my mom should know that she has the love and admiration of her daughter, multiplied more times than she could possibly comprehend.

Charlot Albao Boll is a college instructor
at Education America, Honolulu campus.

The Goddess Speaks runs every Tuesday
and is a column by and about women, our strengths, weaknesses,
quirks and quandaries. If you have something to say, write it and
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