This was just a catchy title to get you started on this article. I will actually tell you the untold story of my Mom.
Life is challenging for everyone and arguably more so for Immigrants who are forced to adapt to a whole new culture and lifestyle. My mother came to Canada to provide a better life for her family and one of the ways she worked towards that was to open up a small flower shop called Dragonflowers. Running a small business is demanding and takes a lot of time and effort to achieve success. This is made even more difficult when you are tasked with learning and adopting a whole new language in which you must operate your business in.
As a kid, I remember on multiple occasions, having clients request to be spoken to in French or even filing complaints because they did not feel that my mother was speaking “good enough” French for them. Many people give up when faced with difficult client situations such as this. My mom stayed professional, kept her smile, responded with kindness and always tried to find the best way to help everyone who came through her storefront.
As a kid, I witnessed my mom work tirelessly, take care of us and live through countless tough situations, but we never truly understand the sacrifices our parents had to make for us to be where we are today until we get older. When I look back, I realize that my mom continuously made sacrifices and dedicated her entire life to ensure that our family could benefit from a better tomorrow. I never saw my mom sleep. When I would get ready for bed, she would be watering plants at the store. When I would wake up, she had already started her day and breakfast was already prepared and waiting for me. Even with the responsibilities of the shop, my mom always ensured that our soccer team sized family had three meals a day and everything else we needed taken care of for us, which was no easy feat. Day after day and year after year, never once did she take a day off.
Resilient, never did she utter the words “I can’t”, “I won’t” or “this is hard”. She worked continuously without any complaint and that even today. Those phrases are still nonexistent in her vocabulary.
Growing up in the Mile End, this neighborhood used to be an area where shootings and robberies happened weekly which is often forgotten nowadays. One night, my mom was closing up the shop, and yes it sometimes happens that Dragonflowers would close and not be open for 24 hours (jokes for those who know it was always open back then), 2 men tried to rob her.
For someone who has worked so hard to build her business, she wasn’t just going to hand them the money in without a fight. To sum up the event, one of the robbers dislocated my mom's shoulder and the other put my brother in a hospital bed. Enduring what just happened to her, you would have thought she would have taken some time off or have a doctor check her injury. Nope, she took some Tylenol and used the famous Tigerbalm for the pain and continued on with her day. To put it in perspective, I broke a finger once and it was painful to use my hand for regular tasks for two weeks. She didn’t stop to ask for help; still made breakfast and opened the store.
To be this determined, never giving on your goal shows the true nature of entrepreneurship or motherhood. Looking back, I would compare my mother to the Terminator. She usually biked every day to go anywhere like doing groceries. During the summer, she even bikes to see her suppliers, a one-way trip distancing at 4-6km.
One time, she got into a hit and run. Another driver passed by and instead of helping, took her plants and flowers and left her on the ground. Between you and me, I would have probably gone home and taken at least one day off. However, she just got back up like the Terminator and went about her routine of preparing breakfast and opening the store.
Every day while at the store, she would talk to each person that passed by. She would ask them how their day was going, she would inquire about their families, school, or their jobs. She constantly tried to build relationships and make people feel valued. It confused me as a young teenager when she would give out freebies, free plants, flowers or fruits and vegetables. I didn’t understand how she could continue to be so kind and giving and how the negative events had not changed her or made her closed off or less trusting. My mother never had the mindset to be anything other than what she was, and I understood this later in life. We have the power to determine how we allow different events and our circumstances to impact how we do things.
I can give you stories and anecdotes for days, but I believe my point has been made. Being a mother or an entrepreneur is no easy task, being both at the time is even more challenging. That being said, I want to take the time to recognize all the mothers who despite all the challenges and difficult situations they face, do not give up and keep trying and striving to achieve their goals. People might laugh at you, they might try to bring you down or steal from you, but don’t focus on the negatives. Be positive, believe in yourself and your abilities and continue to fight for your goals. If you do this, you are sure to see success. My mom made what Dragonflowers is today with her determination, consistency, giving 110% every day and caring about her family, her business, and her clients. My mom is my hero.
Thank you for reading this personal piece about my hero for Mother’s Day. Times have been especially hard due to the pandemic and a lot of local and small businesses are really struggling. You can earn some hero stripes by going out and supporting these businesses when you can. Instead of going to shop at big chains, visit that little shop you’ve passed by countless times, but have never entered. That tiny storefront might even be just a tad more expensive than those big chains you’re used to, but the care and service you’ll receive will be unparalleled and will more than make up for the price. And the world of a difference it will make to them to have you as a client is much more than you realize.
Here are a few shops owned by families and friends: @dragonflowershop, @legreens.mtl, @hajarlafabrique, @une.simple.occasion, @geb, @orhemarestolounge, @lepizzatelier, @tl_chocolates.