Open Secrets are back! We’re launching our MOMS issue in May, and so we wanted to hear your thoughts about moms, mother figures and what it means to be a parent. You told us, and can keep doing so! The survey is still open here —we’ll be deleting each question as we publish the answer to it, so there’s still lots of time to respond!
We wanted to preserve your voices and the spirit of your answers, so we haven’t edited any of the responses.
We asked you to tell us about a mother figure in your life. Here’s what you told us:
- My mum is very complex and interesting, absurdly kind, and extremely annoying (to me). She was born in 1940 in Montreal, her father away at war, and was raised in a housing project for veterans. She married at 22 and divorced at 28, spending her married years traveling the world and photographing it. She tried every Eastern religion, lived on a farm baking bread and embroidering linen shirts. She lived romantically with a (medium-)distant relative for a few years, and played in a band with him called Fuck Pig. In her early 40s she got her PhD, with a thesis on caring for a dying parent. She met my dad at 37 and had me at 44. My birth was preceded by two miscarriages, and followed by two more. She would have loved to have had more children. She worked with street people for the last 20 years of her career, and they’d sometimes show up at our house and need to talk to her, which she would do, even during a party. She’s a great lady, but as a teen I just hated how long it took to walk down Bloor Street with her while she stopped and talked to every homeless person who called out her name and wanted to chat.
- i was reading a birth story the other day and began weeping at the realization that i could never give birth without the presence of two of my closest witch coven bosom companions.
each of them is my mom as much as my mom who made me with her body, because those two made me who i am with their brains and hearts.
- I was fortunate to have a mother growing up and still around in my life. I don’t know what I would do without her. My mother is wise, loving and good with money. She never knew how to cook, or even bother learning how to make anything. I grew up having a home helper, so my mother was the one that paid all the bills and bought us meals. She is very, very smart.
- My mother always told me she got fat after she had me and fatter than she had my brother. Last summer, I saw some old photos of her in her 20s and DAMN, she was hot! Though I must say, her sass never left, she is still beautiful as ever.
- My great grandmother Rikka Sogge has sustained me through toughest times of autonomy building and single parenting phases in my life by thoughts of how she raised six children single handed while WINNING HER OWN HOMESTEAD alone in rural Saskatchewan. She was also a respected member of her Norwegian Lutheran immigrant community church where she served as the parish organist.
- my boyfriend’s mom is momlike to me, though I feel guilt and pressure around that, since my own is gone.
A push-pull of love and grief, alas.
- I have a living mother still at 89 years old. the youngest of four children. the last one alive. extremely stressful relationship. traditional views – sons are revered regardless. daughters – who do we think we are?
- My Mother definitely lives with an undiagnosed learning or developmental disability. As a child it was great because she was always so funny and creative and silly, but as I grew out of that childhood, and she remained in it, I was quickly living on my own.
- She’s my biological mother too, and she’s not without her flaws, but she’s still pretty damn awesome. A labour lawyer, a mom, a friend, an activist, and a wife to a dude who is not always easy to be married to.
- I have a mom, but she was only a “mom” when I was in the hospital (I grew up with a lot of severe health issues). She is a bipolar narcissist, and even considers my health problems harder on her than me.
That being said, I love her. She’s still my mom, and although I no longer stand for her emotional abuse and have learned to put up boundaries, she means a lot to me.
She’s a brilliant person, very well-read and had she not had kids, was on her way to being a scientist.
- My mother is the most generous and caring person that I know.
- Although I have a fairly healthy relationship with my own mother (actually, it’s fairly complicated and makes me gnash my teeth if I give it more thought), I tend to be a magnet for alternative ‘mother figures’. I am currently working alongside a professor in my program who has taken me under her wing. Her mentorship is predominantly professional, but, as with all my relationships with women in senior positions, our interactions have taken on a maternal energy. Now that I reflect on it, I feel that the maternal exchanges are somewhat symbiotic, and that I tend to nurture the professor in a way, as well. While she is able to make relatively objective observations regarding my professional development, I find she has come to rely on my interpretation of her interpersonal affairs. Of course it turns out that she also has a complicated (see: unsettling and weird) relationship with her own mother, but we rarely talk about this. One of my favorite aspects of our relationship is how it has opened up a safe space in my work (and my thoughts) to think through feminist issues, and how issues of sex and gender permeate our daily interactions, including our private relationships.
I’ve never had that before.
- Having a mom like mine forces you to grow up pretty fast. A lot of the time it feels like I’m her parent not her child. It’s awful.
- My mom is really fucking strong, physically and emotionally. In some ways, this is amazing: she can do pretty much anything, is efficient and effective and is a multitasker of the first order. But she is also unwilling to admit when she’s hurt or vulnerable, and keeps things to herself. I worry that she takes failures too personally, and I feel unable to escape that inheritance.
- I had a mother for the first 20 years of my life but was never close to her. Still, she’s my mother.
I’m not sure I really have a mother figure that fully qualifies. Perhaps my late mother’s half-sister – she’s the closest I have.
My mother was never really what I consider to be a mother figure to me.
- My mother died when I was 19 years old, a time when girls definitely need a mother in their life. I spent months grieving, until a woman I worked with took me under her wing. She would invite me to go out to dinner or shopping or a movie. Small gestures, but they meant a lot.
- Growing up all my friends would tell me I had a “super-mom”. She was creative, artistic, caring and 100% into everything a mom should be. As a child this was amazing, and also slightly embarrassing. You see I never had what my friends had; a “normal” mom. My mom was out there, doing the strangest but most marvellous things. One specific memory I have is of my Grade 4 Medieval Banquet, where my mom was asked by the principal to dress up as the minstrel. Of course my mother said yes, and so on the day of the banquet she showed up with her guitar, ready to sing renaissance songs in her homemade costume. All my friends thought it was cool, but I thought it was weird. Despite the many embarrassing moments regarding my mother’s outlandish creativity, there are many things I’m grateful for. Even though she could be weird and overly enthusiastic about everything educational and artistic, I experienced so many things my friends never did. My mother would take us to see Shakespearean plays, Broadway musicals and dine at the fanciest of restaurants. She allowed my sister’s and I to get down and dirty, and to think creatively. She allowed us to think out loud and to sing and dance. We went to countless museums to explore and expand our eager minds.
To this day I credit my mother’s creativity with helping to raise three independent and strong women. Without her crazy antics, and many theatrical performances, I doubt I would be the person I am today.
- My mother is introverted, frugal, depressive, supportive to a degree – mostly with financial, school, work – anything economical. She is one of the least maternal person I know…She is also a survivor in many ways and unfortunately has not had many reciprocal, loving relationships.She has been a feminist (untitled) as long as I have known her. Not perfect, but never shaved her legs, rarely wore bras, supported her 4 daughters to get educated and be independent (financially and otherwise).
- I loved her, but I did not like her. She was a thwarted feminist one might say. She took her power in ways which one does when essentially powerless. She took her power over her child, and I was that child. I am seventy-three years old, and I am a feminist who has lived the life she would have wanted. As a result of my good luck I hope I have been able to successfully integrate my feminism and motherhood. The judge of that would be my daughters who are living out their phase of feminism and motherhood. As for me, feminism has and still does inform my life, and motherhood my greatest joy. HOWEVER, it has been a struggle for me and for my daughters to balance feminism and motherhood. I do not see it getting easier.
And I am still struggling to have more compassion for that mother figure in my own life, as I realize that mothers are the repository of all society’s ills both personal and political.
- If by mother figure we mean someone who provides maternal comfort and also makes major impressions on our egos, I would say that my sister is also my mother.Despite myself, I take her authority on absolutely everything. I feel compelled to review all my life decisions with her, and if anything feels bad, I tell her. She is an amazing source of confidence for me and her disapproval also shakes me to the core.In recent years, that relationship has actually levelled out a lot. We are more like peer-mothers now, but still, I feel desperately attached to her.
- My mom was an extremely versatile woman. She could cook a superb meal, sew a garment, knit an outfit, keep the books, shop economically, organize an event, write humorously, talk intelligently about politics and history, remember and share family stories, bake bread and make jam, play the piano, and even think up creative ideas to keep us from boredom.
She didn’t talk much about herself or share feelings. She would just Step up and DO.
- My maternal grandmother was a strong maternal figure to me. She had a soft and comfy body, cooked, hovered as I ate, stroked my brow and worried about . . .well, everything. She also had a PHD, taught at a university, and wrote several books. Her acute intuition propelled her family (and my 5 year old mother) out of Europe just before the war.
- My mother is my primary mother figure. However, I never modelled myself after her. Now, as the mom of two young children, I try to be the kind of mother I always wanted, while being the kind of mother I want to be.
- My mom is at once the toughest and the most sensitive person I could ever hope to meet. She raised me to be a hard worker, independent, and really considerate of other people’s needs, and she never pulled punches when I was a kid. She talked frankly about serious issues and never sugarcoated anything (including when she identified my many limitations!).
- My mom is a tiny firecracker and an accidental upstart. She is the life of any party, and has a passion for life she infects everyone with. She wears a lot of makeup, and favours big hair even if it is not on trend.. although she is very aware of fashion. Much like my grandmother, she is amazing in the kitchen and an international cook that served up all kinds of strange and delicious meals during my childhood. All of which I ate and loved! She loves a glass of wine and to crank the stereo on a Friday night and force my grown brother and I to dance with her against our will…lol.
If you’re looking for more to read, all the answers to our sex survey can be found here!