I grew up happy, healthy, and loved. At the time, I had no idea that I was any different from any other person in the world, let alone the reserve where we lived. As a child and well into my youth, I had no clue how hard it was for my parents to provide a comfortable lifestyle for myself and younger brother.Read Ashley Budd's My Mother's Hands
Beardy's & Okemasis First Nation
I grew up on the Beardy's and Okemasis reserve and graduated from high school in 2007. I went on to attend school at the University of Saskatchewan and received my Arts degree in Sociology, with a minor in Native Studies and a certificate in Aboriginal Justice and Criminology.
If it were not for my parents pushing me to work hard I probably would not have the life I have now. Especially my mother who used to make flash cards and practice tests to help me with my spelling, which I struggled with in school.
My writing is reflective of the life my parents worked hard for me to get. My piece speaks for itself and describes the struggles that many Aboriginal woman are faced with when it comes to overcoming hardships and working hard to support their families. Aboriginal women, especially mothers and guardians, are often overlooked for the roles they play in the development of our communities.
I grew up happy, healthy, and loved. At the time, I had no idea that I was any different from any other person in the world, let alone the reserve where we lived. As a child and well into my youth, I had no clue how hard it was for my parents to provide a comfortable lifestyle for myself and younger brother. Both my parents went to university during my childhood, and when my younger brother was born my mother eventually left school to help support our family. Just like she has always done.
My mother is the eldest of her siblings and had a large influence in raising and supporting them. She started working when she was 14-years old, which is mostly unheard of now, and has not stopped working since. My mother had me when she was 17-years old, she finished high school with me on her hip.
My parents did not stay together. Unfortunately, my father was not responsible enough to help raise me. My mother is Cree, and her family was not well off growing up. A product of residential school, her parents struggled with alcoholism and poverty. My father was Métis, and he also grew up around drug use, alcoholism and poverty. My father was an alcoholic and drug addict. He would go through endless cycles of being sober for a while, and then drunk and drugged. My mother left him to make a better life for herself and I. Eventually she met my dad and had my brother.
As I stated before, I was raised happy, healthy and loved. My mom worked hard everyday to make sure of that. My mom is now reaching her forties, but you would not know it by looking at her. She looks young for her age but her body knows different. She tells me her aches and pains, and how the rain makes her hurt, but she keeps working hard, like always. Where you can tell her age is in her hands. Her hands are not smooth and manicured. They are rough, calloused, and cracked. Where other women’s hand may be pristine and soft, hers are aged and hard.
Those are the hands that would cook and cut up my food. Those are the hands that have wiped my tears and nose, and put bandages on my cuts. Those the hands that kept our house warm, bellies full, and provided comfort and reassurance. I love those hands. Sometimes when I miss her, because I moved far away, I close my eyes and imagine those hands running through my hair, or rubbing my ears. Those hands spent hours holding books to read me stories, and even more hours being worked into what they look like now. I remember those fingers threading through my hair and braiding it tight for school.
I am grateful for those hands. Those hands provided comfort and discipline, and because of that, I have a good life. Those hands carved out a future for me, a future that where I come from not everyone was so lucky to get. I love those hands. I marvel at their beauty and strength whenever I see them.
I once wanted hands like the other girls. My fingers are a little bigger than others', they are stubby and my nails are square and kept short. I wanted my nails to be oval, long and painted. I once wanted delicate hands, but not now. Instead of hoping for different hands I am thankful for the ones I have. Now I’m a mom, and sometimes I get scared, frustrated, impatient, or unsure, but I know that no matter how I feel, my hands are steady and will not falter. I know this because they are my mother’s hands.