We’re celebrating moms this weekend. Thank you to eventer, trainer, horseman, and author of IN THE MIDDLE ARE THE HORSEMEN Tik Maynard for this original essay.
My mother walks into the bank, where she has banked since she was six years old. She waits in line, shuffling her feet. She studies the patrons, alert for gossip. The teller is frowning at a young girl who keeps repeating, “I don’t think so,” and then scrolls through her phone.
My mother huffs at cars that drive too fast, puffs at cars that drive too slow. She can’t teach riding, like my dad and I do, because she doesn’t “understand why they just don’t get it.” And if you are not a Democrat (in Canada a Green or NDP, or maybe a Liberal, if it is a year to vote strategically), you don’t have a prayer.
After ten minutes Mum walks up to the counter. The teller wears wire-rimmed glasses and is nearing retirement. She takes a deep breath then looks up at my mother. As Mum opens her mouth to say something, the teller speaks first. “Piss off,” she hisses.
My mother rocks back. Her eyes widen. And then she laughs. The teller smiles. They giggle. She feels honored that she is the kind of woman who can take a joke.
Mum will give it, but she can take it too. She loves that kind of thing. My mother teaches me to not take myself too seriously.
When I’m home in Canada we play Scrabble. Mum usually wins, which is frustrating because I want to win more than she does. She just likes getting a lot of points—the 50-point bonus for using all seven letters in her hand, or putting an X or a J on a triple-letter score. She is an expert at the small words: ZUZ, QAT, XI, XU, QI, KA, ZA, AA.
I lay down “LIB” across, which adds an “L” to “AB” to make ”LAB.”
“Great words, Tik!”
She does the math. “You’re only 85 points behind,” she says sincerely.
My mother reminds me to keep enjoying things for their own sake.
I wonder who else banters. It drives my dad crazy. It pushes my wife to the edge. But my mother and I can’t get enough of it.
“You shouldn’t talk on the phone while you drive.”
“It’s legal in Florida.”
“Legality is not the same as intelligence.”
“Are you calling me stupid? Because stupidly is mostly genetic.”
“If you are going 60 miles an hour and look down at your phone for two seconds, that is like going the length of a football field without looking up.”
“Did you know 80 percent of statistics are made up on the spot?”
My mother looks at me.
“Mum, I’m just saying, did you do the math on that?”
“We can figure it out right now…”
“And have you ever compared the reaction times of someone in their thirties to some in their eighties?”
“I was born in 1946.”
“So you haven’t?”
It’s like eating potato chips. We can’t stop.
My wife Sinead and I have a little joke where we like to give each other backhanded compliments. We decided to let my mum in on the game this year and sent her a gift with this written on the card:
What some might call stubborn and overbearing
we see as strong-willed and filled with love.
Happy Mother’s Day, from Tik, Sinead, and Brooks
My mother taught me to appreciate stories and literature. She taught me the names of constellations and how to grow tomatoes and that science is a method and not a discipline.
She taught me to question authority. (Entirely by example.)
My mother made me realize that we are all paradoxes. We are all hypocritical. She taught me that loving someone and understanding someone are not the same thing. My mother drives me crazy.
My mother taught me to love strong women.
Happy Mother’s Day.
You don’t have to be from a different generation to be a strong woman. Take Sinead, for example. This will be her second Mother’s Day as a mother. Our son Brooks, about 20 months old, asked me to write a few words for him:
I watch Mummy make me breakfast. I watch her make me lunch. I watch her make me dinner. When my diaper needs to be changed she can make that happen too: She says “Oh, Daddy. Your turn for a bit…”
Sometimes I cry, but when I see Mummy, I know it will be okay.
Mummy teaches me things: “Dogs go ‘Woof-woof.’ Cows go ‘Moooo.’ Auntie Meg goes ‘Ca-caw, Ca-caw.’”
Mummy reads me books like Giraffes Can’t Dance. She makes a joke about Daddy, but I think he is a good dancer. “Well, he is enthusiastic,” Mummy says. I don’t understand most of the book, but I point at the things I recognize and make noises.
When Mummy sits with me on the couch I feel like a prince. Sitting with Mummy is special; not everyone gets to sit with Mummy.
Mummy rides horses. I see her with them, and she is focused and calm. It is difficult to be focused and calm.
I like hugging Mummy. Mostly I just hug her legs, but when she picks me up and hugs me that is the best.
I love you Mummy.
Tik’s memoir IN THE MIDDLE ARE THE HORSEMEN is available from the TSB online bookstore.
CLICK HERE to read a free excerpt or to order.
Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and videos, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.