I remember the incident as clearly as if it happened yesterday. I was in Port of Spain General Hospital after getting a "buss head" courtesy a hockey stick to my head. It was a hockey match off a penalty corner and another player's gutsy strike at goal.
My forehead was bleeding profusely and the president of my hockey club, Valgene, was explaining the mishap to my mother. My mother was literally crying on the phone at the news. I could hear Valgene fishing for quick answers as my mother asked a million questions. She was frantic. When I came home that night with eight stitches and a swollen forehead I asked my mother why she reacted the way she did. She told me I would understand when I became a mother. I was just 19 years old and I just sighed. I loved my mother (still love her dearly) but back then through events in my life I never fully understood, embraced or appreciated her sacrifices and maternal instincts (and intermittent licks which I deserved) which saved me from many a dilemma, heartaches, injuries, etc.
"Make sure you pray all the time. You never know what you will encounter out there," she used to say. This warning still rings in my head daily. Back in the day, I listened to her sometimes and other times I sighed, the same sigh from the night with the buss head. I used to be amazed that she read me like a book. "Where did you go last night without telling me?" she asked and I knew she didn't know that I went to Club Coconuts that Thursday night so how did she know my whereabouts? Hmmm, strange.
It's not by chance, she explained, that she knew me through and through, it's just that mother to daughter connection where no one else but your mother knows.
Throughout my adolescent stage I watched her battle through challenges in life. In these moments she wasn't the tearful frantic mother like the night of the buss head. Instead, she was a stallion, a warrior; a prayer warrior at times confronting whatever cross God gave her to bear with admirable fortitude and undying resilience. The times she felt like giving up and crying, she didn't. Why? Because of my sister and me — she knew she had to be strong for her children, no matter what.
She became and still is up to this day my super hero. Her charm, her wit and commitment to family has gone a long way in keeping us together. My mother is a force to be reckoned with. A woman with a quick tongue. In the past when I asked her how she had acquired such great life-coping skills she laughs and said "you'll know one of days when you have your own children!"
And so that day came. Two years ago I gave birth to the most beautiful angel, Amarice. It was during my pregnancy that I began appreciating my mom to the fullest. From the nine months of physiological challenges to the delivery room to the first day at home with my new baby, I began to understand what a great woman my mother is.
She taught me how to be a mother ("good" will come with practice she said. "I am still in training by being the best mother to you and your sister" she says.
For me her lessons are ongoing.
"Give her a hot bottle of tea that will help with gripe. Don't give into her crying, she will control you. Put her to eat at the table for good eating habits and take her to church often."
I don't where my family (myself, husband and baby) would be without her tips on childrearing. Or where we would be without her casual cleaning drop ins and weekly pelau!
In essence, I really hope that I could be a mother like my mother, as her maternal talents also extend to my cousins, the Girl Guides Association of Trinidad and Tobago, the St Francis RC School (where she was a teacher) and church/intercessory group, the Sangre Grande Lions Club, Coal-mine Village Council and the community of Sangre Grande.
Last Thursday she celebrated her 60th birthday and it is important to me that she knows how much I love and appreciate her. Although she still doesn't understand my love for hockey (I still play hockey by the way), I must admit that I now understand her so much more now that I have my own child.
Happy Birthday Anne Marie Serrette-Waldropt. I hope you live to see many more and to teach me many more life lessons on motherhood.