My brother got sent to military school when he was fourteen, not because he fit into the stereotype of a “bad seed”, but because no one can really explain or justify family traditions without saying something moronic like, “It’s family tradition.” Fine. If that’s the way it is, my family tradition will be to rape small children on Mardi Gras. No, just kidding… We’ll probably kill them too. (Don’t shit yourself; it’s just dark humor to brighten up your day).
Anyways, nobody ever questioned the fact that I, too, went to military school. I didn’t actually have to leave home, like my brother did, or even wake up at dawn for IPT (also known as the devil’s torture or intense physical therapy, you choose). No. My military training was throughout my life, you know, because my mom is such a hard ass. I’m not whining; au contrarie mon cherie, I’m in awe.
Now, most of us take our mothers for granted. Why? Because, dude, they nag, and nag, and nag, and nag, until one day they explode, and the cause of that verbal atomic bomb becomes lost on us. My mother, a walking version of latino-drama, is an amazing woman. Sure, we argue like four times a day, sometimes we’ll pick fights with each other just because we’re bored (and, you know, ‘cuz we’re women), occasionally we’ll have screaming matches, but through it all there’s a deep seeded admiration that carries out the general tone of our relationship.
My dad is not your typical father-figure. Sure, he’s full of love and as soft as a soggy cigarette, but when it comes to parenting, he has become much more influential as my brother and I entered young-adulthood. He’s not the controlling type or the bossy type; he’s a “live and let live” sort of person: a wise mentor. If my dad was sort of like Dumbledore, my mother was Minerva McGonagall (yeah, I just took it there): tough love. My mother raised two kids on her own (and, come on, we’re pretty extraordinary; props to my bro for getting into Carnegie Mellon, by the way), has an amazing business career, is a well-known philantropist, and becomes a mentor to anyone that ever meets her. Of course she’s a hard ass, because “going home” isn’t an option for her: she just “goes hard”.
Mediocrity wasn’t a word that we were allowed to pronounce as kids. I’m pretty sure that my mom would have rathered us cussing like trailer-trash, than acting like mindless parasites. She took this to such an extent that, as an early teen, she sat me down and handed me a paper with a circle and various lines drawn out of it. “You’re the circle,” she said, “and all the lines coming out of it are the paths that you may take in life. My job as a mom is to make sure that you’re on the right one.” Then, she proceeded to hand me another sheet of paper with a list on it, “Here are the things I expect out of you. This is the way I can make sure you’re on the right path. If you get bad grades and neglect your health, then you’re entitled to be treated as an under-average kid, that means no sleepovers, no going out, no trips, etc; if you get mediocre grades and are mainly mediocre in your life, then I’ll treat you mediocrily; but if you strive to be extraordinary in every aspect of your life, then, not only will you get extraordinary results, but I’ll give you extra freedom and treats. If you ask me, that’s what I expect from you.” Dude, if people were to parent all of their thirteen year-olds this way, the world would most definitely be a different place.
Eventually, our relationship transitioned smoothly into a friendship. The day I graduated high school she said to me, as I got all dolled up for my prom, “I’m done.” She didn’t say it angrily or annoyed; she said it the way you feel about a masterpiece you’ve worked on for years. I’ll never forget the metaphor she gave us for parenting, “You’re like Michelangelo’s David, hidden somewhere under the finest block of marble there is. I am the sculptor that’s just chipping away at the imperfections, but in essence you are perfect.” Now, isn’t that the most beautiful thing a mother could ever say to a sulking teen? To be concrete, that’s exactly why mothers nag: to make sure you don’t end up being a complete dickwad.
I truly think that parenting is much harder than they let on. From my experience, she does it with a grace that can’t be compared to earthly things: she’s a goddess. Lately, that’s the idea she’s been pushing, “Sabri, you have to understand that some women are princesses: capricious and whimsical, waiting for someone to rescue them. Then there are women that are queens: regal and commanding, but that go to bed alone while their kings are fucking an assortment of mistresses. But those aren’t the only types of women, there’s a third category: goddesses, women who have unlimited power and elegance. I’m training you to be like me, a goddess.”
The other day I was watching V for Vendetta, my brother’s all-time fave, and I said to him that there were really good quotes in that movie, and he responded, “Sis, the entire movie is a good quote.” My mother isn’t a good quote, she’s an extraordinary one.
Part of the reason why I’m writing this, though all of it is true (she can vouch for me), is because I forgot to give this incredible woman a Mother’s Day gift (I blame finals). Mom, consider this to be more than a heartfelt card; it’s my declaration to the world that you are and always will be the person that I most admire. Thank you for making me David.
As for all the rest of you, love your mothers, even if they nag, and yell, and whine, because it’s their job to make sure you’re not a complete asshole. Most likely, they are the platform on which you’ll stand.