Every year on my mother’s birthday (and around mother’s day at some parts of the world) I stop and think about the lessons she taught me and about how they translate to the way I raise my children and the way I live my life.
Since I became a mother myself, I have a better understanding of that special bond, the demands and the all-encompassing nature of a mother’s love, and I developed an even greater appreciation for the many valuable life lessons I learned from her, here are some of them.
Love openly – generously, wholly, the hold no bars kind of love, that I knew was and is always there for me. It’s a huge gift to get – knowing there is always someone there to catch you when you fall, steady you when you stumble and hug you when you feel cold or sick or down, or just in need of being held. There was no such thing as fighting with my mom – not in a real sense. I remember her being stunned by my best friend staying at our house for 2 days because her mother was not talking to her. She couldn’t fathom the idea of “not talking” to your child. In general, she didn’t believe in staying angry – that old rule of “not going to bed angry?” that’s my mom. I try and keep to that in my own life. I can get frustrated and angry with my kids, but once I breath (or yell) my way through it, I always take them in my arms right away, and assure they remember that even if I am angry or that they are angry with me – the love is always there.
Be present – Lord knows I am not a perfect mother (I don’t believe there is such a thing), but the best thing as a child was having my mother present for me. She worked long days but still was there in every important aspect – and in the little things. One of the strongest memories I have from my childhood is of my mother at the end of the lane leading out of our house to the street, watching me walking away, waving at me and blowing me a kiss as I reached the street corner and turned out of sight. This was done every morning as I walked out to school, EVERY morning. Today she still does that – waving and blowing kisses as I load my kids into the car after visiting, she waits at the same spot until our car turns that same corner, watching us drive off. For some reason, that act stayed with me all through the years. I do my own version of it with my kids and I hope it will mean as much to them as it did to me. I hope that like me they will grow up knowing I am here for them, that I see them and that they are the most important thing in the world to me.
Acceptance – I was never afraid to change, to experiment, to look for myself in different places and ways than those I was brought up in. My mother has 4 children, we are each SO different from one another it’s amazing. We each had the courage to explore ourselves and the world because we knew we will be loved, never judged and always accepted by our mother for who we are, no matter what. We all lead VERY different lives than the one my mother leads, however she is still excited and is happy for our successes and choices even when sometimes she doesn’t really understand them. I never needed to hide things from my mom or pretend to be something I was not, and that is saying a lot. I look at my kids who are their own little persons and try to make sure they know they will always have the same acceptance from me.
The art of letting go – this may be the hardest lesson to learn and to implement for a parent – but I was taught well and I hope I will use what I learned smartly. My mom as I wrote, was always present for us and very involved with our lives. She was the ultimate mama bear watching out for her cubs, never going to sleep when we were grown, until we were back home and all safe in our beds. She always knew when we were sick before we even realized it, just by the sound of our breathing (I think it’s a universal mom skill, I got it too). I could have sworn as a child she was in 10 places at the same time, always making sure we are in her line of sight in public places, always keeping us safe. But when the time came for each of us to leave the nest, she let go with her blessing, let us fly confidently into the world in search of adventures. I am the youngest, and the only girl, the bond she and I share is intense, but still when I decided to move across the world all alone, looking for my own way, I remember her holding me tightly in the airport crying, but still so proud of me, letting me know she has full confidence I am going to be OK. I was battling my own anxiety before stepping away to board that plane, but her confidence in me gave me the push I needed to get over the nervousness. The image of her hugged by my older brother, eyes shining with pride and tears watching me go, is forever etched in my mind.
When the time comes to let my babies fly away, I know they will do that confidently, knowing that I have faith in their abilities to conquer the world.
Many lines and poems were written about motherhood, but the one poem that always runs through my mind when I think about a mother’s love, is one that was actually not meant to be about that, but for me it fits the description of motherhood to a T, so I will sign off with these beautiful words:
“Here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)”