Image of a mother goose with her baby

Life of an immigrant woman with four kids

My mother came to this country Victoria Day weekend 1999, with four children and no understanding of the English or French language.

We were placed in a government housing neighbourhood, subsidized, while my mother was in school to learn English. All four of us began school the following school year. I have two older brothers and one sister who is a year younger than I. The oldest was thirteen and the youngest was six.

My mother was alone and probably lonely.

My mother is my superhero. 

She would wake us all up, have us ready for school, walk us to the school bus stop and send us off. As a kid, I thought that was it. That my mother would then go back home and watch cartoons all day while eating the snacks she bought for us (that was what my seven year old mind believed, anyway). Now I know that wasn’t what she did, I don’t think she was able to have a day like that until we were young adults. 

After she’d send us off to school, she would go back home and have containers of food ready for us for when we got home from school. We would come home and my eldest brother would allow us to watch TV after we finished our homework while he warmed up the food. We would have dinner and play until my mother came home around 7 p.m. This was every weekday, it was routine, it was our lives.

While we were at school, my mother would be at her first job, Tim Hortons, followed by her second job which was cleaning motel rooms. If we needed groceries, she would do that before coming home. My mother did not have a car for the first three years of being here, so she would do groceries and bus home alone with heavy bags. She worked SO hard to get ahead for us. She wasn’t a “lazy immigrant.”

She’d come home and help us get ready for bed, tuck us in and give us our kisses. She would then go downstairs and clean up, prepare lunches for the next day and head to bed herself. She never had downtime, it was always go go go for her. 

The weekends were spent with family, she’d drop us off early in the morning at our cousins and she’d head to her English classes. She’d come back late afternoon and we would all have dinner together, that was Saturday. Every Saturday.

Sundays were our favourite. Sundays, we were home. Sunday was the day my mother way home with us but she still was on the go, she’d be cleaning and cooking all day, but she was home.

I recognise now as an adult all the hardships my mother went through to give us a better future, to get us out of that neighbourhood and into a better one. She worked non-stop to make sure that we would have the Canadian life that she dreamed for us and we wouldn’t need financial support from the government. 

She worked hard for every penny but we were kids and didn’t recognise that. My siblings and I would always ask for money, to go to the movies or just have “pocket money” for when we wanted to get a treat while out with friends. There were four of us and when she gave one of us five dollars, we all got five dollars. This added up and I realise now how expensive we must have been for her but she almost never said no, she was happy to see us happy.

It’s been twenty years since we arrived to this country, it took me fifteen years to realise everything that my mother has sacrificed and done for us. I appreciate all the hard working parents out there, doing their best. We don’t see it as children but cry ugly tears as adults when we discover how difficult we must have made your already most exhausting days. 

Even when we made it near impossible for you to love us, you did.

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