Growing up, Mum was Captain Marvel. For real.

Dad was obviously a super hero too in my eyes, but not a day goes past when I don’t remember or thank Mum for the work she put in when I was younger. Seeing the tears that she had when my siblings and I were young and the struggles that we went through.

We grew up in two garages – it wasn’t the most ideal of places to grow up, but that was our world. I could literally tell you right now that the garages were as small as a shack that we all lived in.

Times were tough, it was nowhere near an ideal size for anyone to live in but we made it work and at the end of the day there was a roof over our heads and somewhere warm enough to live.

Some days when it was raining it would be leaking, to be in that place with garages and stuff like that it wasn’t the best living situation and that was probably some of our toughest times and it was probably in one of the roughest areas of New Zealand that you’ll come across.

I’m sure other people speak about it too, there were times where we were robbed when we were sleeping. Our belongings would be right next us as we slept being taken, we’d been robbed about four or five times and sometimes you’d sleep scared and as a kid you wouldn’t know how you’re going to sleep.

It’s not until you go through something like that, that you know what it’s like to go to sleep scared and with one eye open and you definitely learn lessons from that.

The one thing that stuck by me every time something got tough, like those nights when Mum would struggle to put food on the table, she would look back and say ‘Everything happens for a reason and we have to keep going, we can’t rely on anyone but ourselves’.  

And I’ll tell you right now bread and butter was the best bloody thing in the world at the time that’s how bad it got. I still have it right now at my home stay.

The way Mum worked, her work ethic outside of the straight face I know she pulled when those days were tough and the days that didn’t go our way.

Mum kept that positive mindset and always said to us ‘Everything happens for a reason’ and that’s stuck by me ever since I was a kid growing up and seeing her go through those things and obviously the stories that we’ve been told, to see Mum everyday I was young put in for me and my brothers and my little sister is what motivates me.

There were days there that were probably some of our darkest days that no kid should see at our age and for her to keep us all in line… I choke up just sharing this.

Mum has always been a very strict woman – she never backed down from anything and she always kept us in line. As I mentioned we came from quite a rough area back home; South Auckland, Otara, and she made every effort to shield us from the chaos of our local neighbourhoods.

Mum would always say to us ‘You don’t have to be the same as everyone around us. The situation shouldn’t dictate the way we live’.

Mum always made sure that we went to a good school, out of the zone and that was hard, the fee’s were expensive but she always made it work.

And so Mum’s work ethic to get us out of that kind of place and out of the situation we were in is just crazy and her resilience through it all especially with the amount of things we’ve been through has been crazy.

To see her still have a smile on her face and to put on that brave face everyday during those days has been the biggest lesson and motivator for me.

Work ethic has always defined Mum’s character and she always prides herself on that, she’s a lady that doesn’t like to be walking around the house doing nothing and she’s a very busy women still, she still babies us like little kids.

But in saying that I think I learnt my biggest lessons when I was coming out of high school and Mum kind of said to us we’re too old for hidings and stuff like that and she said ‘I want you to be comfortable to talk to me about anything’ and that right there for me, that made me really comfortable with Mum and now I consider her my best friend.

I call her about everything, I let her know about everything and I’m sure that everyone that knows me, knows that my Mum is my best friend. I’ll give her two or three calls everyday and see how she’s going and see what’s busy in her life.

It’s funny when I’m back home and we’re driving I don’t like to be on my phone in the car with her, so I’ll sit there and have a chat and catch up on what the new gossip is with Mum, so it’s pretty funny in that sense.

But she’s been unreal for me ever since I moved away from home and obviously money wasn’t the biggest thing, I didn’t have money, I didn’t have anything, so Mum used to fly down when I was having those tough days.

And when I wanted to move back home she was always in my ear. I think the hardest thing was when we finished school and everyone was going to Schoolies. I remember sitting there and complaining ‘Why am I here doing fitness, when my mates are out there having fun?’.

She said to me ‘Son, one day you’re going to look back at all these sacrifices and you’re going to look back on this time you’re going through right now and missing out and you feel like you’re missing out on so much but you’re not’, and I just sat there and she’s like ‘This is setting you up for a better future and a better life that you can enjoy forever instead of enjoying this little period of fun that all your mates are having’, that was hard to take in at first because I was like this is all bullshit but now that I sit back and look back at it for her to say that is big and that probably kept me at Cronulla in those days as well.

Now that I look back at it she’s been my biggest influence ever since then and every time I talk about my Mum I get a bit teary about it because just seeing what she’s gone through and what she’s pulled us through is crazy and I take my hat off to all women and I have so much respect for women as well, for what they do within their families and especially my Mum.

Mother’s Day is a big thing for me and my brothers we always send her as much love as we can and as many gifts as we can to keep her happy.

My first game bonus from the debuting I gave her money and Mum’s not a big person to do her hair and her nails and stuff like that so I said to Mum to take my little baby sister with her and go get your hair done, a pedicure and a manicure. She does so much for me to not give back to her.

I think the thing I was scared about I guess was not being able to fulfill my dream in front of her and for her to still be around.

Now that I look back at it for me to complete my dream of playing rugby league in front of her, that’s the biggest thing I’ve achieved in my life at the moment, knowing she was sitting there in the grandstand witnessing a product that she played a big role in.

Mum still hasn’t stopped crying since I made my NRL debut haha.

My brother still gets a bit teary about it as well. The emotion that I saw on my Mum’s face after the game when I gave her that hug…I’ve waited what… Eleven years? Twelve years for it… When you wait so long for something like that, it’s just one of those things you can’t describe, its hard to describe something like that and I still can’t believe it and I hope my Mum is the proudest women alive right now and I’m sure she is.

Even to see my step-Dad cry and my real Dad cry, that was just unreal as well and everyone that’s close to me kind of know what I went through and that was a big moment for them to see as well.

When I think back Mum’s been the biggest motivator for me and I can’t explain the feeling of what me and my family went through.   

But I’m truly grateful for all that happened in that time and I’ll never forget it. I don’t shy away from it, I’m not scared of it and I’m definitely not embarrassed of it because it’s created the person that I am today. Thank you Mum – Happy Mother’s Day!