Though most will say this about their mothers, my mum is one of the best people on the planet. I can’t recall a time when she was anything but supportive, kind, funny, and wonderful. Everything she’s done in her life has been for her family, and she’s happiest when her family is happy. My younger sister and I were both extraordinarily lucky to have her be a stay-at-home mother. She was there every day when we left for school, preparing our breakfasts and lunches, making sure we’d done our homework, and every day when we came home, ready with a snack and asking us about our days. Growing up, I was never scared to go to her with any problem I was having, and she’s frequently the first person that I go to for advice on just about anything. Without a doubt, my mother has shaped me into the woman that I’ve become.
My mother, the ever wonderful Pamela Cox, was born in the community of Douglastown, New Brunswick, a village located on the north banks of the Miramichi River. In 1995 it was amalgamated into the city of Miramichi, which included towns Newcastle and Chatham, and smaller communities of Loggieville, and Nelson. My memories of summers visiting family in Miramichi are filled with fondness, and a little bit of boredom, though Mum would often tell me, “There’s so much more here than there was when I was growing up.” To which I would always wonder how the heck people below the age of retirement kept from going mad with boredom. I would then likely tease her about the fact that the schoolhouse that she used to attend his now a museum, because I am known to occasionally be an asshole. In all seriousness, Miramichi is a lovely city and I encourage anyone living or going to the East Coast of Canada to visit – especially in the summer when everything is lush and green.
(I swear that this article is not sponsored by Tourism New Brunswick)
When I get my mother on the phone, she sounds a little apprehensive. It’s a Wednesday afternoon, and I’ve contacted her by text earlier in the day to ask if she’ll be home, because I’d like to talk to her. Of course she is, and is looking forward to our conversation, but I can tell in the way she leads with her greetings and asking what is up that she thinks that something is up. We often talk once a week on the phone, usually Sundays. I’d love to talk to her (and my father) much more often, but the four hour time difference is constantly throwing a wrench into our lives.
Once I do manage to convince her that everything is okay, and that there’s nothing really happening, good or bad, we chat about our weekends (my parents’ was spent painting their home, the house I grew up in, which is now on the market as they plan their move to another province), and mine was spent with some extended family for dinner one night, and at a friend’s birthday party. We also talk about garbage and recycling days in our respective provinces, because that’s what passes for thrilling conversation between us. We’ve always talked about everything and anything, no matter how dull or mindless. There’s been some drama with the recycling at our condo, and part of me wonders how my life got to this point.
I tell her about Obvi, and that I’m writing a piece for it and would like to interview her for a Mother’s Day feature that we’re doing. She sounds both excited, touched, and the tiniest bit nervous when she agrees right before I launch into the questions, but I can tell that she’s eager more than anything else. I’ve told her that I’m trying to make a point of writing more, and like the wonderful mother that she is, she wants to support me and my passion. She is easily my personal blog’s most frequent reader.
Who was your role model as a kid? Who is it today?
I guess I would have to say my mum. Role model today? I don’t know that I have one. I don’t think. Me, myself, and I! (That’s good! You should be your own role model! That’s awesome!)
Why was Noni (my grandmother, my Mum’s mum) your role model?
Because of everything that she did. She was a stay-at-home mom, and she raised eight kids, and she did everything by herself in the house.
Grandad didn’t help out?
No, because he worked all day. So, no. She did everything. The cooking, and the cleaning, and the taking care of all of the kids. She was the one that got in the car and paid all the bills and everything.
What do you admire most about your parents?
How they could raise a house full of kids like that! (laughs) My god. I know that I didn’t come from the perfect family like you and Kirsten have. (laughs) I think I admired, like I said, where my mum took care of all the kids and my dad supported the family, and they kept things together even though it was very, very hard. We weren’t poor, we always had clothes, we always had everything we wanted but, you know, my parents talked about their financial difficulties, in front of us, and where we could hear. I admire them for the way they brought us up, and providing the necessities of life, and keeping us all together as a family. It was hard in the goddamn old house. When I was a kid we weren’t on town water, everybody had their own water – wells! – and their own sewers. And the pipes would freeze up and we wouldn’t have any water and it would be awful in the winter time. But I guess that’s what I admire most about them – they did it. They kept a roof over our heads, and fed us, and clothed us.
What do you feel like you inherited from your mom and dad?
Oh, from my dad it would have to be the stubbornness. And my mum it’s my intuition. Yeah, and just common sense and um, you know, being a good mom.
What were your defining characteristics as a young adult before you were a mom or wife?
I was mature at the time, but a lot more immature because I didn’t have children to take care of and didn’t have all that responsibility. So, I did party a bit more, of course! I don’t know that I was any different. I still had a lot of common sense, knew right from wrong … I don’t think so. I just matured a lot. Like, I was a lot more shy. Now I don’t really care so much about what people think.
What is your first memory of Dad? What kind of a person was he when trying to date you?
My first memory of your dad is – well you know, I have a lot. Let me think. The first one I have is before I knew he was even interested in me. It was in the bar that I worked at, and I was coming from the bathroom and he and Jeff were sitting at a table playing backgammon and he said hi to me, like he knew me. But I didn’t know him from Adam as they say, I had no idea who he was. That’s the first memory. He was a gentleman, of course. He was fun. He was just a nineteen year old young man. He got me into all this different music that I never heard of before like Elvis Costello, Boomtown Rats. It was fun!
Why did you choose to be with my father?
For the money. (laughs) Because I loved him. I love him. His personality, and the way he treated me. We had, and have, so much fun together. I just knew he was the right one.
Did you ever have second thoughts about getting married?
Oh god, no. None. Nope. Never looked back.
What is your proudest moment as a mother?
Oh my, that’s a hard one. I guess seeing your children succeed and seeing how they turn into well rounded adults. Knowing that you did a good job raising your kids, instill good values in them. Because you guys are pretty good. (I think we turned out alright.) You did, both of you!
Tell me about one day or event that you wish I could relive with you.
Let me think here. That’s thirty years I have to go through! It would be being at home with you, before you started school. Like from the time that you were born to the time you went to school, because we were together all the time.
In what ways do you think I’m like you? And not like you?
You like food! You like to eat all different foods. I know that you’re like me. I’ve been told that we look alike. But I can’t see it. You know what Kirsten just said? “You’re both short.” (Thanks, Kirsten!) Um, you have a lot of common sense and intuition like me. I’ve said to you, and Kirsten too, if you feel like something’s not right then you follow your gut instinct, right? And it does work. In what ways are you not like me? You speak your mind and don’t think twice about it. You’re more outgoing than I am.
Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Well, yeah. You gotta be fair.
(Note from the Interviewer: I think that’s my favourite response regarding feminism that I’ve ever heard. We talked briefly about what feminism is, and what it isn’t, and that was her response. It’s all about being fair, about giving women, all women, the chances that they are sometimes not afforded.)
Interviewing my mother was so much fun. She and I have always been very open with one another, I consider her one of my best friends so we talk often. There wasn’t a lot that she answered that I hadn’t heard before.
My mother would later text me, shortly before she was to go to bed I’m assuming because of the time different, to tell me that she wanted to change her answer for the who is you role model today question.
“My husband and best for taking on this amazing job. Travelling back and forth, being away from his family to make a better life for us. That’s who I admire and look up to, your Dad.”
That’s just like Mum. Always thinking of her family.