“My mother… she is beautiful, softened at the edges and tempered with a spine of steel. I want to grow old and be like her.”

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I have spent endless nights dreaming of the kind of love that you sacrifice, compromise, and bleed for. I spent even more of my time measuring my self-worth by the lack of boys that have done so for me.

My mother’s 45th birthday was a couple of days ago; March 11th. Here’s the thing: My mother loves me, and it is better than the kind of dreamy, romantic love I have sought after and desired.

One of my earlier posts described the situation with my father: his manic depression. Although I myself had to go through many tough events trying to bandage my family situation, I have sometimes neglected acknowledging the situation my mother was in before she had me, and all the things she had to bandage.

My mother began ballet when she was eight years old and it was a passion she carried throughout her years in high school.  In fact, she almost moved to Russia in order to pursue her ballet career. Just like how she almost attended Stanford University for her Masters degree after being accepted. She didn’t do either of those things. She got arranged to be married at the age of 21 and had me five years later.

This may have been the first inadvertent sacrifice my mother made for me, and the most important, because if my mother hadn’t married my father, I wouldn’t have been born, and so on. My mother nor her family had any awareness of my father’s mental illness and so she spent the first few years of her marriage confused by some of the things he did and how he behaved. Imagine not knowing who you’re married to.

My mother recollects these events in fragments when she talks to me, and maybe it’s because she thinks I am not ready for the entire story, for all of the details. Maybe one day I will be.

When my mother had me, she could’ve stayed with my father. His family was wealthy; she had a home to live in, food to eat, designer clothes, and expensive cars. She even ended up attending North Central College. However, she told me she felt trapped. My father’s family was quite apathetic towards her (quite common in joint families with arranged couples): cook this, clean this – it isn’t tasty enough, it isn’t clean enough. You can’t leave the house, you can’t say that, you can’t do that – why’re you wearing that?. And, eventually, she started to figure out what exactly was going on with my father.

This was the other sacrifice: My mother faced the harsh social consequences of getting a divorce and becoming a single mother so she could raise me in a safe, liberated, and happy environment – even though being a single, Indian mother and having to face the opinions of a narrow-minded community wasn’t really any of those things. But she decided that my happiness was also hers, too.

My father passed away in 2010 and my mother cried. Think about this: My mother decided to stay with my father for five years, to have a child with him, despite the things she had to go through on a daily basis with him.  She wanted to save him – she compromised her own happiness for his, and ultimately, mine.

My mother is basically awesome. She’s got this huge heart that’s full of love, understanding, and courage. The kind of love that my mother has for me, the kind that she has sacrificed, compromised, and bled for – nothing can compare to that.

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Quote: “My mother… she is beautiful, softened at the edges and tempered with a spine of steel. I want to grow old and be like her.” – Jodi Picoult

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