When I was a kid, I was weird.
I liked wearing a flowery embroidered purple tunic with just about anything, regardless of colour or pattern (it was my favourite top). I wore horizontally striped socks with skirts. I carried a book bag years before any of my schoolmates. What I thought was cool never synced up with what was generally considered cool. I was a complete klutz, not coordinated at all. I was taller than most of the boys in my class and I didn’t wear a bra until senior high school. (Also not cool, as I was often reminded.)
My mom always let me be me. She would check with me as I got older sometimes, maybe offering an alternative for consideration, but she supported my final decisions.
Mostly, I liked being weird. I have always enjoyed quirky things, and new adventures. They attracted me.That why I became such a foodie, I wanted to try new tastes and understand how to incorporate them.
Becoming a sommelier was also a perfect fit for me—it’s a bit of a nerdy pursuit, learning all that history and geography and tasting wine, but then spitting it out.
When I took up gardening, I found another weird way to express myself. Just like that embroidered top, the flowers that attract me are unique and the patterns in my garden plots are more wild than organized.
For some people, all this is just too much of a difference. It can scare them away. I have been very fortunate to find some wonderful friends over the years, but often I’ve encountered folks who just don’t know what to do with me, or how to respond to all my weirdness.
I remember asking my mom on one particularly tough day, at about the age of 15, “All of this is just a phase, right? It will pass. I’ll grow out of it, won’t I?”
Without hesitating, she answered, “No dear, it’s not a phase. You’ll have to learn to live with it.”
I think back then I figured she was kidding. It took me another few years to realize I was born not to fit in. The more I tried to be a part of the cool crowd, the more they disliked me. I should have connected the dots, knowing my tastes were different.
Once I understood that others who had similar (equally weird) tastes were my “tribe,” then I stopped trying to explain the differences as a way of being accepted.
My mom passed away recently. I was chuffed (thrilled) to see her embrace her own weirdness in a new way once she retired. She spent the last 11 years of her life sailing and travelling, with winters in Mexico. She met new people and made new friends.
As this Mother’s Day approaches, I am flooded with all kinds of memories we shared and I am grateful for the skills she taught me like cooking, gardening, reading, and appreciating the little things.
She was always a traditional Mom, making great cookies, putting notes in my lunch, sewing my choir outfits and Hallowe’en costumes.But the best thing my mom did for me was encourage me to be who I really am.
Thanks, Mom. I love you.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.