A Letter To All The Moms Who Raised Me

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When I reflect on people who played key roles in ensuring my successful entry into adulthood it is full of smart, loving, inspiring faces. One of these people I am especially thankful for, because without her I would not even grace this planet, I call Mom. While my Mom gave me life and taught me a lot early on, she wasn’t the only woman I needed.

The woman I am today is a direct reflection of a group of moms. Some people might refer to this as a “village” but most of the women I am thinking of didn’t know my Mom personally. These women were aunts, friend’s moms, a stepmom, a high school yearbook teacher, and a college professor. I’m proud to be a collection of women, my Mom included, who offered advice, picked me up when I stumbled, showed up when it was important, and instilled some important core beliefs into adult me. So this post is an ode to all of the knowledge these women imparted. Thank you for your patience (especially during those teenage years), love, and being on my team.

Happy Mother’s Day.

It Is OK To Be Selfish (Sometimes)
From early ages most women are taught to do for others before they do for themselves. I believe in living life with as much empathy and gratefulness as possible but I am so thankful I was also taught to be selfish when it really mattered. The idea of being selfish is more about looking out for yourself and putting a buffer between you and physically or emotionally harmful situations. Confused? Being selfish with my heart meant knowing when it was time to walk away from romantic relationships. Being selfish with my time meant only quality people or causes made my social schedule. Being selfish with my future meant leaving my friends and family to move to California, because I knew that is where I was supposed to be. Being selfish with my dreams meant I could tune out anyone who told me that I was crazy or that some task was impossible.

Being Alone Doesn’t Mean You Are Lonely
For those of you that haven’t been reading this blog for very long you should know  I was married before the husband I currently have. I don’t talk about it a lot because it honestly feels like a lifetime ago, and there isn’t really a lot to say except not a right fit for either of us. He’s a good guy, I think his parents read this blog sometimes and they are great people I am still so happy to know, I hope he lives a very long and happy life with someone. When we split up I went from having an entire established life with someone to living in a studio apartment in a different state where I didn’t know anyone. This took some adjusting, I had a lot of alone time. I cried, was mildly depressed, contemplated moving back home, and talked to my stepmom regularly. She told me I had to give it a chance and that being alone didn’t make me unlovable, it just gave me more time to figure out who the hell I really was.  I remember she also told me I could always come home if I was really, really miserable. That was 8 years ago and I am still a proud resident of the Golden State. She was right, about all of it. Having time to myself made me a more confident person, forced me out of my comfort zone to meet people, and was actually quite liberating (eat what I want, watch what I want on TV, pants optional ALL THE TIME). My advice to every person now is get comfortable being alone, like really alone without a phone or internet or TV. Spend some time with yourself and say yes to new experiences. I mean, how do you think this blog got started?

Be A Woman Who Supports Other Women
This one took me a little while to learn, but I am so glad it clicked. If you are a young (like under 25) woman reading this let me be the first to tell you that the most important relationships you can make in life are with other women. They will pull you through the dark when you can’t see, they will help you throw small pity parties and then just as quickly tell you to get your shit together, they will show up with champagne to help you celebrate the victories,  they will watch all of the Magic Mike movies with you, and they will love you exactly the way you are forever and always. Be a woman who is open, supportive, loving, encouraging, honest, and always willing to help pick a girl up (or throw her in a cab if she needs it, thanks Jules). Women who compete with you over men, social status, designer bags, or body type are not your friends but the good news is that there are millions of other women who would love to be your friend. This goes back to being selfish about time, be careful who you give it away to!

Get Uncomfortable
In college I took a few performance studies classes that led to me participating in a live stage performance in front of a small audience. My performance studies professor was always encouraging us to push ourselves and “risk,” and now I understand why. Fear is a bully that keeps you from risking, and so many people let it control their lives. Fear keeps you from applying for that job, or speaking up in a meeting, or moving to that place, or talking to that person you find interesting, or telling someone they hurt you. Fear is safe, most of the time you know what the outcome of a situation will be. Alternatively risking is terrifying, you never know what will happen when you make the leap! This also makes risking insanely freeing, because even if the situation doesn’t turn out the way you expected you confronted fear, and that is the best feeling ever. Every time I have decided to risk I grew a little bit more and learned life was not as big of a deal as I was making it out to be in my head and most people are worried about themselves, not me.

 

Now it is your turn, what did your Mom teach you?

 

 

 

A Thank You to All Moms

 

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I don’t know how to say thank you to someone for my place in the universe. I mean without my Mom who knows what crappy blog you would be reading right now. The thing I want to talk about with Moms is that they are not just your Mom, they are Moms to all. What I mean is they don’t think twice about utilizing their power of seeing the future to catch a kid right before they fall or touch something hot, sharp, or otherwise life threatening. Did you ever get lost as a kid in the store? You probably just grabbed some lady that looked like Mom from the knee down, but that woman comforted you until you stopped crying and walked around until real Mom was found. They also fix scraped appendages, give the most comforting hugs, and always make sure you are safe and well fed.  Moms of the world do this for any kid: your friends, your cousins, some kid at the mall…they have you covered. It is like there is some international Mom conference every year and they all sign a waiver saying they would look after each other’s children. I think part of it was to exchange phone numbers too so if you did anything stupid that threat of “I’m calling your mom!”  could totally come true (it still scares me).

I am beyond lucky to have two amazing women who Mom me. My biological mom, who despite my best attitude efforts, has loved me since birth and my Stepmom, who got to skip all the terrible teenage years part and move right on to being friends with me. Both of these women have unending amounts of strength, patience, and love that they share without question. These are the women I call when I’m sick, when I’m sad, or when I can’t figure out why my instant Jell-O pudding recipe was not working (may or may not be a real story). These women love instead of judging, laugh instead of complaining, and always remind me to take care of myself first. I see pieces of both of them in myself and am proud to reflect these qualities as a woman.

Moms, Stepmoms, Grandmas, Teachers, Friends, and Moms everywhere: Thank you for holding our hands when we cry, for the kind words when we crumble, for the tough love when we deserved it, for notes in our lunches, for the home made Halloween costumes, for valuing us over any amount of sleep, and for loving unconditionally.

Happy Mother’s Day

A personal post for Mom

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Do you have those times in life where it feels like a hamster wheel? You are running around overwhelmed by “to dos” but when you stop to look around your feet are still firmly planted in the same place. I’m there. I am also in the “eat ice cream for dinner every night and I dare you to say something judgy because you aren’t the boss of me” phase.

It was this dairy zombie state that inspired this post. I try not to post a lot of personal strife stories on here. For one that is what private diaries are for (please please leave it out of your Facebook status update as well) and two, everyone has challenges and setbacks in life. I would rather spend our time together talking about mine and your successes of coming through those life lessons, “cultivate inspiration” is my mantra for it. I also remembered that you spend some of your life investing in me and reading and commenting on posts. I love that about you, it makes me feel like we are connected and could totally start a book club and we would be best friends (and I am positive you are an awesome hugger) and it makes me feel confident in sharing the not so glamorous portions of my life with you was well. So thanks for sticking around.

Let’s continue with the mantra of inspiration. The woman who instilled fearlessness in me from a young age and told me I could do and be whatever I wanted and to dream bigger and hand sewed Halloween costumes (and numerous other clothing items since) and had a doctorate in genetics (seriously the smartest person I know!) is sick and in the hospital. Don’t be sorry, don’t , Mom is in great capable hands, she is enjoying the gossip magazines and puzzles my sisters bring her and there is more to the story.

Mom has been sick for a while, she had a heart transplant when I was 18. Still not time to be sorry , I might never give you the option throughout this whole post.  She has pretty much been in and out of medical care facilities since. My parents were right: life is tough and unfair and indiscriminate. Throughout all of it though my mother has kept her positive attitude and ridiculously sharp wit (as in before she had her heart transplant she wanted to take up smoking because she had never tried it before and was going to get a new heart anyway). She is back in the hospital now and this time feels a little more scary, all my siblings can feel it, my mom however only wants to discuss ridiculous celebrity baby names and how she only gets 12 channels on her TV and 6 of them are the local University stations. She continues to cultivate beautiful inspiration even at her most challenging time. My youngest sister, who also blogs and will someday be a super famous and successful journalist, was inspired by mom to write one of the most beautiful things I have read. I included an excerpt below and a link to the full post at the bottom. I couldn’t give a better voice to how I’m feeling right now and am thankful to have such a talented friend and sister.  I love you Mom

 

I’m 18 and in college. I’m miles away from the home of a mother who cared more about me than I ever could have imaged over the course of my life.

She wasn’t normal, but she didn’t have to be. She didn’t need to be. She didn’t need to conform to the expected actions of a mother because she held the same – no – even better characteristics. She taught me to become the person I am today by overcoming the obstacles that are supposed to stand in our way. Her illness didn’t define her

No, she defined it.

Why she couldn’t make it to events? She understood her boundaries, her limits. She gave all that she could, until it became more then she knew she could handle.

Limited.

Why she took so many pills and slept day and night and became a regular at the hospital? Because she valued her health and was not ready to give up by any means.

Strength.

Why she embarrassed me in public? Because she cared about me. She always had and I was so blinded by the expectation of moms to see it.

Compassion.

I call her and she answers from her hospital bed – I know she is hooked to machines, beeping like robots.

“I’m doing okay.”

was always her response to the vague question of ‘how are you?’. Okay –  her way of saying ‘I’m not great, but I’m not trying to make you worry’.

Selflessness.

Hearing the latest news of mom in a hospital, imagining her getting poked by pointy needles and falling asleep to the beep of machines, leaves me in tears. Tears because I’m not there with her. Tears of love. Tears of hope.

I’ve lived my life in hospitals. Not for myself, but for my mother.

I love my mother. I’ve never had a normal mom, but she’s absolutely perfect. And I’m forever grateful.

excerpt used with permission from My Daily Realizations. For the full post click here