In the three years since I’ve had my daughter, I’ve used Mother’s Day as a time that I’ve used to reflect on how the women in my life have helped me be a better mother. I have some wonderful women in my life that have helped shape me as a parent. Because my mother passed away ten years ago this coming June, I haven’t had her to reach out to, so I’ve reached out to this network of women, and I’d like to thank them.
But first, I’d like to thank my own mother for the lessons that she taught me simply from being my mom. It took me a while – maybe too long – to realize that she had given me much of what I needed to know in the 25 years that she was with me.
For many reasons, maybe mostly related to self-preservation, I don’t talk about my mom a lot. My daughter has been asking me about her a lot recently, though – asking to see her pictures on a regular basis and asking almost every day where my mom is. So, she’s been on my mind a lot. While she passed away seven years before I had my first child, I’m the mother I am because of her. Here is what I would write in her Mother’s Day card if she were with me today:
What I remember most from my childhood is how gentle, affectionate, and playful you were with me. You told me I was beautiful many times each day. I think it rubbed off, because I am constantly telling E and D how gorgeous, smart, and sweet they are.
Last week, it hit me like a ton of bricks that your parenting was still with me. E has gotten into make believe recently. She asks me to pretend to be her friend, and I have made up a name – Margaret. “Margaret” and E have conversations and play together. I remember when I was young, and we would play for hours as best friends, “Jennie and Julie.” I don’t know how you found the energy to play with me as much as you did, after working full time and being chronically ill. I also remember you calling and pretending to be Grover when I was at my dad’s house. I have a special voice that I use for E’s favorite stuffed animal, and she is constantly asking me to use it. Now that I’m a mother myself, I can see that playing with me probably wasn’t always the thing you most wanted to do, but I would have never known. I hope that E and D will feel the same way about me someday.
In entering elementary school, you insisted on a focus on my education. I didn’t have homework in first grade, so we went to a teaching supply store, and picked out flashcards and workbooks to do after school. Some of my best memories are sitting at the kitchen table doing that extra homework you gave me, and doing it together. You maintained that focus on my education through high school, helping me fill out scholarship applications, and quizzing me before exams. Thank you for that. Not only did my education get me where I needed to go in life, but it instilled a love of learning that I hope to pass along to my own children.
When I was a teen, you continued to dote on me, waking me up in the gentlest way, whispering my name, and starting my car each morning before school so that it would be warm when I got in. Even as your illness continued to worsen, she drove my friends and me all over the city, rarely complaining.
This doesn’t even come close to listing all of the things that you did for me, but I am so grateful for all of it. I’m so grateful that you gave so much of yourself to me, and I hope that I can be the same source of love and comfort to E and D that you were and still are to me. Thanks for all of it.
I love you.
Even though the things my mother taught me have been much of what I’ve needed, I’ve still relied on a community of women to help me through these early years of parenting. I’d like to thank a few of them specifically:
- My sister, whose endless patience with and kindness toward her children inspires me
- My mother-in-law, doting on my children and always sympathizing with me about the difficulty of this season of life
- My aunt, who has stepped in as a grandparent figure for my children
- K, who convinced me that going back to work was not going to damage my children and for listening to all of my anxieties
- My grandma, for teaching me about raising children 60 years ago
This Mother’s Day, take some time out to thank those that make your life as a mother easier, even if they aren’t here with you.