Today is Mother’s Day. This year, more than ever, I took the time to really think about it. I’m not sure why. Maybe because I have a whole bunch of friends that are now mothers, maybe because I have some friends that are struggling to become mothers, maybe because I thought I would be a foster mother by now. Again, I’m not sure. But I’ve been thinking, praying, and reading about this day for weeks now. And in doing all of that.. I’ve come to realize (even more) what a special mother I have as my own. Through the years, I have learned so much from her. Recently, I was having a conversation with someone about how growing up I always felt closer to peers than family (that’s just who I was as a teen and young adult). That has completely changed now. I am closer to my family now more than ever before and I cannot imagine going a day without talking to them. My mom is an incredible wife, mother, sister and friend. Here are a few of the best things she’s taught me:
You can do anything you want. My mom always encouraged my sisters and me to follow our dreams, to jump at opportunities, and to not let anything stand in our way. I don’t think I realized how much she meant everything she said until I went to her at 19 years old saying I was going to go to Africa, with no one I knew, for 6 weeks that summer. Reflecting on that moment, I remember feeling like she was going to be very hesitant and full of doubt and questions. While she did have tons of questions (like any mother should), by the end of our conversation, I had her full support. She loved me enough to trust my judgement and realize that I truly felt called to pursue that opportunity. And that’s just one opportunity. Growing up, all three of us have been encouraged and supported by our mother in many big and little ways. No matter what the dream or opportunity it was, my mom was always on our side and willing to help.
You don’t have to be perfect. This one has been incredibly helpful to me over the years, but now more than ever since I am married. My mom never pretended to be perfect and she never expected us to be. I used to listen to my friends talk about how they never know if their parents fight or disagree, because they’ve never seen it. My parents made it a point to show AND tell us that it’s OKAY to disagree in any relationship, but especially in marriage. I’m not saying they fought in front of us on purpose, because they didn’t. I’m just saying that they were open and honest about if they weren’t seeing something eye to eye. It gave us all the opportunity to watch forgiveness and love in action again and again. Thirty years later, they are married and they still preach the same message: no one is perfect. There are no perfect families and certainly no perfect marriages.
Work hard – because you’re supposed to. My mom has worked hard her entire life. Whether it was staying at home with us, doing in-home daycare, or being a paraeducator now – she has always put her all into everything she does. I will never forget how hard my mom works. And no matter what her job was, she was good at it. Not because she wanted to earn more money or be recognized. Just because when you do something, you’re supposed to do it well. And you’re not entitled to anything. As a teacher, I have students that expect rewards and recognition for doing what is expected of them. If they don’t feel like they will be rewarded, they don’t even try. I am so glad that my parents never allowed my sisters and me to think like that. We’ve always worked hard, but not for money or gifts or recognition. Just because we were supposed to.
When you can’t say it, write it. I hate talking about it, but I’ve put my family – ESPECIALLY my mom – through hell and back emotionally. I was a lot to handle, and I still am today. But growing up, my mom took the brunt of it. I lashed out at her (sometimes I still do) and my dad because I knew they would always love and forgive me, and that they weren’t going anywhere. Middle school and early high school was the worst for us. My anger and loneliness urged me to push my parents away daily. Inside I was struggling to figure out my anxieties, who I wanted to be, and my purpose. Whenever something major would happen, and I thought my mom had had enough, I would find cards. Everywhere. Under my pillows, in my suitcase when I went away, in my backpack. I have a large box of cards from my mom that I can barely ever bring myself to read because they are so emotional. They are filled with words that during those times I would never let her say to my face – that she loves me, she’s proud of me, she’s always be there. As I got older things improved with my parents and my family in general, but I still go back to those letters. They are a huge part of how I’ve overcome a lot of what I used to struggle with, and they are an amazing picture of a mothers love and commitment to her daughter.
Mom, thank you for all that you’ve taught me. I can’t wait to continue learning from you as I become a mother one day. Happy Mother’s Day! ❤️