It’s Mother’s Day. A day to honor mom. Send her flowers. Write odes. Give her hugs. A day to say “yes” to mom.
The thing about my mother and I is that we’ve been through a heck of a lot in my 30-something years. While my mom was raising me, she was also growing up herself. But she already had a nine-year-old son, a second husband, a family to support.
She has always been one of the hardest working women I know. In the early 80s, in addition to her job in banking, she sold Mary Kay products. She would go to these MK conferences and teach me their enthusiasm song when she came home. We’d march around the house, singing at the top of our lungs:
I’ve got that Mary Kay enthusiasm down in my heart!
Down in my heart, down in my heart!
I’ve got that Mary Kay enthusiasm down in my heart!
Down in my heart to stay!
Some of my favorite memories of my mom are in our backyard when I was around 4. She’d run around the yard, making silly faces, dancing all over the place and swing me around. We’d laugh and laugh and I never wanted our backyard fun to end. Again! Again! She had this spirit about her that was magnetic.
Growing up, she decided to switch careers and be a respiratory therapist. She studied day in and day out. I’d find her school books open on the table and flip through the pages to see her colorful highlights of the various parts of the lungs and heart. Eventually she began working around the clock and I didn’t get to see her as much.
Despite her hectic schedule, she encouraged me to do it all. Kickball. Bowling. Choir. Gymnastics. Piano. Clarinet. Girl Scouts. Guitar. Tap. Jazz. Ballet. Clogging. I even went to extra math classes after school, art classes in the summer, and took a space camp course sponsored by NASA. Nerd alert. Even though she may not have been able to be there for every recital, performance or competition, I look back on those experiences and I’m thankful she pushed me to explore my talents nonetheless. I also fully understand why my list of hobbies is so long these days and why I can’t.sit.still.
As a teen, we went through some pretty tough moments. I ran away a couple of times (for like 30 minutes). She went through another painful divorce. I “successfully” borrowed (without asking) the car for the night but had to wake her up because I didn’t know how to get the keys out of the ignition. We had to support each other and be a team even though I couldn’t understand her new single life and she had to mend her broken heart. I learned not to make things harder and to step up to the plate while she healed–an unpredictable process I now understand all too well (and one I had a hard enough time doing with cats, which apparently aren’t as much work as children). So with a bit of teenage angst, I got good grades, took on various jobs, helped pay the bills, and I tried to stay out of her way as much as possible.
As I entered young adulthood, I began to distance myself, emotionally and physically. I wanted to break free from her umbrella. I wanted to try to do things my way. We kept in touch often, but the relationship was changing. It wasn’t either of our faults. It was just what I needed at the time.
Now here we are. Two adult women. Navigating our way through love, life and family. Living thousands of miles away. We talk every now and then, see each other some. We have our moments of misunderstandings and our moments of laughter. I still giggle to myself when she calls and says in her formal voice, “Hello, Fiana. This is your mother.” Yes, mom. I know. The phone told me.
But no matter what our relationship looks like at any given time, she’ll always be the woman who sacrificed so much to give me a good life. She’ll always be one of the most resilient women I know and one of the biggest cheerleaders I’ve ever had. She’ll always be the woman who marched around the house with me, telling me I’m beautiful, strong, and smart, and who put Fruity Pebbles in my bottle (BEST BOTTLE EVER!).
Each day, I begin to see the magnitude of what she did for my brother and I–during such a transformational time in her life–and I’m amazed. I can’t help but be incredibly proud of her, of how far she’s come, of how hard she’s worked, and of how much she’s fought for herself. As I face my own challenges, my own heartbreaks, my own moments of weakness, I have to thank her for showing me that even the hardest of hardest life happenings don’t have to hold you back. She truly is the reason I think I can do it all.
Earlier this week I called my mom to tell her I wouldn’t have a chance to celebrate or send her anything for Mother’s Day. It had been a heavy week for me. I haven’t been in the right place. I didn’t have much time and sleeping was a priority.
Her response was: Oh! I didn’t even know it was Mother’s Day!
…We all know that’s not true. But it just goes to show that at the heart of a mother is the truest love and the kindest forgiveness. Feeling grateful to have that kind of love this Mother’s Day.
And before you get all grumpy with me, I’ll make it up to her. I’ve got one life and one mom and I’m thankful we’re both still on this earth to call each other today. Plus, I’m always on a mission to beat my brother in the “Best Child Contest.” I made that contest up.
What I’m trying to say is that it takes someone brave to be a mother, someone strong to raise a child and someone special to love someone more than herself.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mama. May your day be as special as you are.