Photo courtesy of Marc and Craig Kielburger Image by: Photo courtesy of Marc and Craig Kielburger
Craig: Mom has always been great at all the requisite motherly duties—giving unlimited hugs, helping with homework and attending our various sporting events and lessons. She was also stunningly cool when, as young activists, we had a small group of 12-year-olds take over our living room to talk about child labour—even more so when it swelled to 50 or 60 kids from all over North America. But after all the rides and meals and encouragement, what truly made us who we are was watching Mom be who she is.
Marc: Our mom is amazing.
Craig: Literally, we are amazed by her.
Marc: When women become moms, it's often said that they lose their identities. They become known as "Alex's mom" or "Jordana's mom." But inside, they're still those very cool women.
Craig: Our mom never intended to raise social activists. She never lectured us about helping the needy or striving to change the world. She just explained social issues as we encountered them and, by example, showed us how to treat people with respect and compassion.
Marc: Like the day she took us Christmas shopping as kids in downtown Toronto. We tried to keep up with Mom on the icy sidewalks, then she suddenly stopped while we kept going. We hadn't noticed the homeless man sitting there, but she did. Mom engaged the dishevelled man in conversation. I can still hear her gentle tone. She asked his name, how he was and whether he had found shelter the previous night. Finally, Mom slipped a few dollars into his hand and said "goodbye."
Craig: It wasn't until we were older that we realized not everyone stops to talk to the homeless, and that Mom had spent early adulthood working with street people. We knew she had grown up in pretty tough circumstances. After her father passed away, she had to work at a local store sorting pop bottles to help our grandmother, Mimi, make ends meet. One summer, the family was forced to sleep in a tent; one Christmas, dinner was just bologna sandwiches. But Mom went on to university and became a teacher.
Marc: Whenever we had snow days in the suburbs, Mom brought us to her school, where she taught autistic kids, slow learners and recent immigrants. Mom was patient and engaging, and she brought out all the strengths in the kids that most people—including us—didn't see. She sent me to sit with the kids and, reflexively, I emulated her approach: hand on the shoulder, looking them in the eyes.
Craig: One year, Mom had a smaller class of perhaps 10 students with speech impediments. The principal told her that the class wasn't expected to participate in the Christmas assembly. But Mom was undeterred. She patiently solicited Christmas words from the kids and pieced their thoughts together on the blackboard. Eventually, they had the makings of a play, which they presented to the entire school. Mom showed us that everyone has something to contribute.
Marc: Moms teach us a lot, but there's so much we can learn by looking at the women inside—the artists, the businesswomen, the caregivers, the innovators, the chefs, the activists, the contributors to society.
Craig: Most of us (hopefully) tell our moms we love them on Mother's Day. But when was the last time we told them we admire and look up to them? I'd bet those words would beat a bouquet any day.
Check out what Elaine Lui of Lainey Gossip has to say about her relationship with her mom.
|This story was originally titled "The Person in the Parent" in the May 2014 issue.|
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