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Merci Maman

To the woman who gave me life more than once

By Emmy BPublished 3 years ago 4 min read

Thank you Maman - thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you… a million thank yous never seem enough.

I grew up privileged, I had two parents, and a stay at home mom. She is wild and fun and free and embraces her freedom in the best way possible, helping others and gratefully pursuing her loves - of dancing, hiking, painting, the list goes on. She didn’t give up who she was to be a mom, she is herself, and she is Maman and the love she has for my brother and I could move mountains.

I didn’t believe it though, not really, until she left everything to feed me and nurse me back to health at the age of 20. Where I saw her strength, the force of nature she truly is, and what it really means to be a strong woman, to be an incredible mother, and to be true to yourself.

Maybe it’s worth going back to the start - my parents moved our family to the United States from France when I was 10 or 11. It shouldn’t have been a shock but it was, even at that age, and I rebelled. I was a terrible teenager. I was bullied, I hated being too French to be in America and too American to be French and I blamed my parents.

I wrote my mom hate letters. I screamed and fought and scared her, time and time again. It wasn’t until recently that she admitted she was worried for my life at the time. At that age and at that time however, she was my jailer and a perfect example of what I didn’t want to be - a stay at home mom, letting the man decide, no ambition for a career of her own - I was a great example of internalised misogyny, whilst still proclaiming myself a feminist. I wanted to have opinions, and was young and stupid enough to think that they were most easily had at the expense of someone. Overall - I was great at being self-righteous, but not so great at self-awareness (although I would have fought that statement to the death at that age)

Yet this never stopped her - merci Maman.

She persevered. she got mad at me sometimes but never to my face, I never saw it and it sometimes made me angrier. She brought my dad in, so he could take over, and I could see her behind the scenes working to help me in a way that was ok for me and where I was and to this day I can’t stop being impressed.

She listened. When I left to travel to the other side of the United States for university at 17, we both cried. We had been through a lot, she had encouraged me to reach high through the tough years, and she always told me to put myself first. She became a regular confidant, about school, about girls and boys that I met and fell in love with (in an intense, destructive kind of way, as you do when young and full of angst).

She kept me together. When I moved to India at 19 and found myself isolated and lost, she was always at the end of the phone, reminding me how strong I was, reminding me that I could do this, that I was, and am a fighter, that I am resilient. I never realised how strong she was to put her worries aside despite the tearful calls, to be my pillar in the difficult times.

She saved me. When I returned from India, I experienced significant culture shock. Suddenly the community and family I had found there was no-where to be found. Everywhere around me things seemed superficial and fake, and I struggled to reconnect with the friends I had left behind. I had left a boyfriend in India and was trying hard to maintain long distance but everything felt like it was spiralling out of control. So I grasped for that control through food and exercise, and slowly moved from a healthy young woman to one that slowly wasted away under the guise of self-control, of being a better version of myself. My eating disorder was aggressive and unrepentant, and I was on the other side of the United States from my parents - I was withdrawing and hiding until one day.. my mom dropped everything to come save me.

She reminded me the value of my own life. It was hard work - I didn’t want the help. I thought I was doing the right thing and her being there, giving me food and showing me she cared challenged the belief that I was in control and I hated it. I will always remember the day where I came home from work and she was cooking me something that had butter in it - I broke down, screaming at her, and for the first time something cracked and she screamed back, with a broken voice and tears in her eyes

“Don’t you want to live?”

Something changed in me that day. It was still an uphill battle from there, one that took months, even years. I saw the fire in her, I heard her, I saw her. And I took a long hard look at myself and my choices. She had asked me if I wanted to live, and over the next weeks she reminded my that being me was enough for life to be worth living. That I am worthy, and I get to decide what makes me happy, not other people.

She shared her stories, and the pressure that was building inside to change myself and to break myself down moved into a healthy space - I get to decide what success and purpose looks like, not society, not others.

Everyone’s choice is their own - I am allowed to be me, and that is the only measure that matters.


About the Creator

Emmy B

I write some of my truths, and use words to weave stories and ideas together. Writing is a passion and an outlet for me and I hope to inspire, challenge, or simply be a reflection of others's experiences - to make people feel seen!

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