Who’s your mother?

Good Monday morning! Just a little introspection today.

As some of you may know, I moved to Canada on my own, with no blood family. Over a decade ago, I met and married a Canadian and then moved here. No other family member, but my mother, now passed, has ever been here for a visit. Now that I’m divorced, I am without context. There is no one to corroborate anything I’ve said, lived, done. No one. That’s crazy if you think about it especially when you come from a large family in a small community and you only need to give your first or last name before everyone knows everything about you. In Vancouver, there’s no one to prove anything. The only person here who knew me when I lived in Trinidad, knew my family, my parents, my brothers in this whole country is my ex-husband. Wow, right? Now, it’s good if you want to start over – no history to box you in. The flip side to that is you have no history to box you in. Sigh.

This weekend at the Caribbean picnic, an older woman introduced herself to me. I think I had seen her before, but had never spoken to her. She asked me, “Who is your mother?” For a second, it shocked me. What ran through my mind was a cascade of emotions. At first I thought, “Hey, am I in Trinidad?” Confusion. Then I thought, “Could she have known my mother?” Hope. Then came the “Of course, she doesn’t. She thinks I’m someone here’s daughter.” Clarity. What followed was the eventual “In Vancouver, I don’t come from anyone.” Acceptance.

I don’t know how long it took me to answer her, but to her question, I blurted out, “Mummy,” which in itself was emotional since I hadn’t said that word to another person in a while. Also, it dawned on me: just by saying her name, I had given myself a context. Just like that, I belonged to someone even if that someone has been gone now for over 5 years. The woman said, “I know it’s ‘Mummy’, but who is she?” The jig was up. I followed up quickly with, “Oh, you mean here? I didn’t come to Canada with family,” feigning a misunderstanding. If I had to say my mother was gone, that would have done me in for sure.

But just for that split second, I had a mother again who just wasn’t there at that time. Just like that I belonged to someone. Quickly though, my delusion fizzled and the harsh reality that I don’t belong to anyone here came to me. I didn’t have parents here to come with me to the picnic. I didn’t have a husband or a boyfriend who could be shown off or flirted with by the saucy older women. I didn’t have my brothers and their families taking over half the space of the park. It is just me and my child. Always just me or just me and my child.

Weird how one question could stir up all that emotion….

Funny, you know what I just thought about? I’m giving Kidlet the very thing that I don’t have. Even though he doesn’t have the benefit of my big family, I’m giving him context. By going out to these things, meeting people, socializing with other people from the Caribbean, I am exposing him to others and showing him to be mine. Whenever I go to any event, the people I know always ask for him if he’s not with me. When he is with me, people make it a point to talk to him and ask how he is and comment on how big he’s grown. He definitely has a context. Over the years, I’ve heard people comment at these Caribbean things about how they know so-and-so since she was a child and now she’s in university or even now she has children of her own. In ten years, when he’s not joined at my hip, Kidlet will be asked, “Who is your mother?” He’ll be able to say, “Vikera, the Trini, you know her? She’s the loud one!” Ha!

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