Mother’s Day Q&A | Colleen

Colleen Oconnor Family Photo

With Mother’s Day approaching I had the opportunity to sit down with my own mom and ask her questions about her life, what has shaped her, why she made certain decisions and how she fits feminism into her daily life. My family is quite close so many of these things I already knew or understood about her but, I was able to get insight into some things I wasn’t quite so sure about. We laughed, we cried, and then my mom went out for margarita’s… all in all I think the interview went great!

Is there anything in your childhood you wish you could have changed? Why?

I would have wanted my parents to stay together, that’s something I always wanted but once I got older I realized that it wasn’t possible. But, I wonder how I would have turned out had my parents stayed together, I guess, if I had a less difficult childhood. But I also would like to have been more outgoing

What do you feel like you inherited from your mom and dad?

From my mom, I got strength – even though I don’t think I’m super strong, but also gumption from my mom. And from my dad I think I got some of my nurturing qualities, even though he wasn’t nurturing in the same way, I got that from him.

(Note from the interviewer: Mom mom is the strongest woman I have ever met – she has dealt with a lot throughout the years but has continuously been the backbone of my entire family. Immediate and extended.)

What were your defining characteristics as a young adult before you were a mom or wife?

Independence. I didn’t worry about what other people wanted me to do, I just did what I wanted. And, not in a rude sort of way, I was just true to myself. I think that’s what I liked most about myself, I was independent and also mature. I always knew I could take care of myself.

What is your first memory of Dad? What kind of a person was he when dating you?

Oh that’s funny, My first memory of him was coming in to a basketball game in High School. My friend and I saw him and thought he was cute, we would call him teddy bear. Your dad was always a gentleman, and he was and is very caring.

Did you ever have second thoughts about getting married?

Oh sure, that’s normal. A little bit because you have ebbs and flows in your relationships and you always wonder ‘Oh gosh am I doing the right thing? Am I really crazy in love with this guy or just kind of in love because I’m about to marry him’… Yeah, it’s just something that you do.

What’s the best thing that Dad has ever done for you? You’ve done for him?

Your dad worked really hard so that I could stay home with you and your brother and sister as kids. We worked together to make that happen. What have I done for him?  I mean, I pushed babies out! Ha. No… I would say being supportive of him. I went back to school when you were older to help him so that he wouldn’t always have to be the one working to support us.

What is your proudest moment as a mother?

Seeing my children develop into good human beings. You know, just to know that my children as adults are loving, caring and accepting human beings.

When do you feel your best/most beautiful?

I feel my best when I’m surrounded by my family and we’re enjoying things together.

Do you feel like as a woman, you’ve made compromises in life to get where you are?

Sure, yeah. I didn’t want to go to school and get a job. I wanted to be at home and take care of things at home. I liked staying home with my kids and when I went back to work when you were in high school I felt like I was letting you guys down. It caused lots of changes in my life.

What is one thing you wish you could have done but never did?

Either play a musical instrument or learn to dance – something artistic like that. Although, I sing karaoke and have a tambourine, guess I’m halfway there!

In what ways do you think I’m like you? And not like you?

Let’s see. You’re passionate about things you believe in and I am as well. Your kind and all those wonderful things, I mean, you’ve got all my good qualities. Not like me… you’ve got all your dad’s bad qualities hahaha I’m just kidding. How are you not like me? Uhm, you express yourself better in writing and I would like to be able to do that. But also, you don’t have as much patience as I do.

Is there anything you have always wanted to tell me but never have?

After I read your article about your divorce. I just understood a little better…

(Note from the interviewer: This is possibly the most important statement I’ve ever heard from my mother – every child wants approval and at least knowing my mom can understand my decisions is the best feeling.)

Can you remember some of the most controversial things happening as you grew up or became an adult?

You know a lot of the most controversial things have been happening recently with Gay and lesbian rights, gay marriage. But there was a lot of civil rights things going on when I was very little so there was a lot of racial unrest which was troubling. Similar things are happening today but the civil rights movement now is on a much deeper level, it’s much deeper. Now we’re getting into the real meat of the issue. Instead of voting rights and being able to do this or that it’s really about the fact that we’re all people.

Do you consider yourself a feminist?

Yes, I would say yes although I’m old fashioned in a lot of ways.

If so, what defines your feminist viewpoints/ what makes you a feminist?

I think we can go back to rights – being paid equally and being able to do what women want to do. Also, beginning to have women be portrayed in a much stronger way, because we are very strong. Women have always been the backbone – even for men. We don’t get enough credit for that.

What do you do as a feminist / what are feminist acts in your life?

Interviewer A: I saved this so that I could answer it for my mom. It’s mother’s day after all and she should know how I view her. To describe my mom I would use the word matriarch. She is a mother and the head of a family. My entire life I have looked up to my mom for the way she stays true to herself. She stayed at home and cared for us, taught us that humans are humans no matter their race, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion. She believes women should be free to do whatever the hell they want and be whoever the hell they want. She has taught me humility, empathy and that the power to forgive may just be the most important quality a human can have. Although my mom and I are different in many ways – she being much more traditional than I, we are both strong, capable and independent women who know that being true to yourself is better than caring what other people think. Happy Mother’s Day to the greatest mom a woman could ask for! Love you!

Colleen Rae : Artist. Writer. Feminist. Wizard.
Colleen Rae : Artist. Writer. Feminist. Wizard.