Celebrate Mother Mothering

Reflections On Mom on Her 81st Birthday: Alexandra Zykova

I don't have anybody like my parents to embrace me fully, nobody who would know and understand me so much. Once our parents are gone, we lose a big part of ourselves because all of a sudden, the world seems empty.

On the Danger of Being Too Strict

Our parents learned by watching some people disappear. Russia had a very strict political regime. The people who wanted to question authority ended up in Gulag. Many Russian parents in general were trying to keep their children safe by teaching them how to obey. That was stressful because the nature of human beings is to be free. 

My parents were rather strict. That was part of the Russian education. We were raised with a sense that you need to respect authority. If you don’t respect authority, if you don’t obey hundred percent, you can be in big trouble.

Alexandra Zykova

Now, it’s very different. When I moved to the United States twenty years ago, my parents completely let go. No matter what I do, my Mom says, “Oh wonderful, I’m so proud of you.” Everything has totally changed and now my Mother gives me true unconditional love.

I felt that with my Father before he passed away. That was just amazing. No matter what was going on, he was on my side. He would support me hundred percent even if I did one thing today and then changed my course of action and did something very different the next day. 

Middle left, Professor Mikhail Borisovich Zykov flanked by his granddaughter and Alexandra Zykova, extreme right.  Photo Courtesy Alexandra Zykova
Middle left, Professor Mikhail Borisovich Zykov flanked by his granddaughters and Alexandra Zykova, extreme right. Photo Courtesy Alexandra Zykova

My Mother supports me in everything I do now. It’s very nice because I don’t think anybody else in the world, besides my kids and a couple very close friends, has this attitude. My Mom has adopted the attitude of unconditional love. As I grow older, I feel more and more that she doesn’t even try to tell me what to do anymore. She shows respect and support for all of my choices. She wrote the most beautiful poem in Russian for me on my birthday. It’s a poem about how much she loves me. 

The Scientist

The name of my Mother is Tatiana Pavlovna Semenova. A scientist, she studied biology at Moscow State University where she got her PhD. After she graduated, she went to Pushchino Scientific Center, the center of Biological research, a brand-new town which was built on the high bank of the Oka river in the sixties and seventies of the last century. When she arrived there, there were hardly any houses. They just started building the research institutes. My Mom was one of the first scientists to work in Pushchino. She did research for the pharmaceutical industry, studied effects of various drugs on the brain and memory. In 2015 when she retired at the age of 75 and moved to the United States to live with me and my kids, she has published some 118 scholarly papers.

My Evolving Relationship with My Mom

My relationship with my Mother has changed over the years. She was rather strict when I was a child, but it’s not like that anymore. I think our relationship has evolved quite a lot and there is much more unconditional love. That’s pretty much how I feel. I treasure every moment with her. She’s still around. 

Marlene Moodie, Tatiana Semanova and Alexandra Zykova
Photo Courtesy Alexandra Zykova

When my father passed away in 2016, I deeply regretted not spending enough time together during the last years of his life. My father, Mikhail Borisovich Zykov, was a retired Professor of Philosophy. He had his own life. He had his own friends and environment. I had my own. We didn’t live together for the most part. Even when we lived together, I felt like he lived in his own world and I lived in mine. When he suddenly left us, I felt heartbroken. That’s what made me realize I don’t have anybody like my parents to embrace me fully, nobody who would know and understand me so much. Once our parents are gone, we lose a big part of ourselves because all of a sudden, the world seems empty.

We can’t really find a replacement for our parents’ love. It’s very hard to find unconditional love in people. That’s what parents give us. Right now, I feel very loved and appreciated by my Mom. That feels really, really good. I spend as much time with her as possible. I call her almost every day. 

Sasha’s Mother sitting before a beautiful food decor

She is turning 81 in May 2021. I am grateful she is curious about life, she is still open to new experiences, and loves to learn. My Mother is very intelligent and bright, has remarkable memory and I am always amazed at how much she knows about the world, especially about music and art. My Mom is getting ready to become a US citizen, she studies hard for the upcoming exam. 

Just a week ago, I took her on an adventure. We rented a cabin at the Deception state park for a couple of days. We went together to view tulips in Skagit Valley, spent time watching wildlife and sat together on the beach for many hours enjoying sunshine and the sound of the waves. I hope we can have many more outings like this one!

A Treasure Book of Memories

When my kids were in Junior High school, they both participated in a Generational project. The purpose of this project was to connect kids to people from another generation and help them learn about values and life of older people. Both of my daughters chose my Mom as a partner.

They asked my Mom many questions about her childhood, family, school experience and hobbies. They wrote her multiple letters and she sent them very interesting and detailed answers. I learned so much about my Mom thanks to this wonderful initiative! At the end of the project my daughters created a book of memories and we all will always treasure it!

For many years after immigration, we lived apart from my parents but even when we were separated by big distances, we were close to each other and exchanged e-mails almost daily. My parents supported us during hard times when one of my kids needed a complicated surgery. My Mom paid for most of it and she prayed for my daughter’s fast recovery during the entire length of that seven-hour surgery. It was nighttime in Russia, but she stayed up all night and supported us with her good thoughts and energy.  I don’t think anyone else in the world would ever do it for us!

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