As Mother’s Day approaches, I’ve been thinking a lot about the things that remind me of my own mother (the sun, sunflowers, the Yankees) and the ways in which she has shaped me – first as a woman, then as a mother. I look back in chagrin during my formative years, when I wanted to be anything and everything BUT my mother. I worry about those days to come with my own two daughters, when they’ll struggle to find their own identities. I wonder when that subtle shift occurred, from “you don’t understand me!” to “hey… maybe you know some things” to “you’re the first person I call when I need to get out of my own head.”
Becoming a mother is an ongoing learning experience filled with lessons big and small. One thing that I’ve learned to be true, is that relationships between mothers and daughters are beautifully, extraordinarily, inexplicably complicated. As daughters, how many times in your life have you said “I sound like my mother!” accompanied with an eye roll. Yet, how many times have you called your mother or reached out to her because you were on a ledge and she was the ONLY person who could help you get out of your own head? Yeah. It’s complicated.
The sun reminds me of my mother. I think it’s because if she’s in your corner, she cheers you on 100%. When my husband and I started dating, she learned that he’s a diehard Jets fan. And so, she too, started cheering for the Jets. She has an innate understanding of what’s important to the people she cares about; and so she celebrates it, big and small. Where the sun shines, love grows.
She sends me random texts, out of the blue, to tell me how she has noticed a positive change in me or something new that I’m trying. When I think no one else can see me, she notices these small things that mean so much.
My mother also suffers from chronic illness that has impacted her physically, mentally, and emotionally. When my babies were newborns and I was a sleep-deprived, everything-deprived zombie, I know I fell short in patience with her. Sometimes, I still do. But then I remember, she has genuine intentions of wanting to help me and my family. Like any mother, I can be particular about care for my girls or certain things in my home. She truly respects this, and works hard to maintain the order and routine I’ve established in our household. As a working mother who travels for her job, I appreciate this so much because of the peace of mind this effort provides when I’m away from home.
Recently, my cousin’s wife suffered the loss of her own mother. In the weeks before she passed, my cousin’s wife was at her side, taking care of her. She started a group text with me and my mom, communicating with us if she was having a difficult moment or not quite sure what to do. What I witnessed in this chain of texts was nothing short of an extraordinary act of human kindness and compassion. Most of the time, I found myself fumbling for words because all I could think of were the cliches found in greeting cards. But my mother responded with thoughts and paragraphs that simply amazed me. This is where my mom shines, in providing comfort and thoughtfulness when it’s needed the most. I was truly astounded by her ability to help my cousin’s wife through what is probably the most difficult time of her life. She just knew what to say, providing a light in the darkest moments of grief.
I am proud, and filled with gratitude, that this is my mother’s greatest gift. It’s not necessarily in the things she does, but in the way she makes people feel. I am fortunate to be her daughter, and to be a person she loves. Because where the sun shines, love grows.
By Courtney Spiak
Happy Mother’s Day to All!
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