I am very lucky to have my mom. Over the years, friends of mine have lost their moms at too young an age. My own mom was 29 when she lost hers to cancer. Sometimes I think about, if that was me, how would I go on without my mom.
“Muzzie” is everything to me, and I physically need her in my life to ride the roller coaster with me. I need her to tell me how to wash stockings and what to write in a sympathy card. I need her as a cheerleader when I blabber on about how great my life is, and as a shoulder to cry on when I think I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. She knows all my ups and downs, my ins and outs, my pretty side and ugly side, and everything that makes me tick.
And yet, filling out a Mother’s Day card every year is still difficult because it’s too hard to put into words just how much she means to me. What I really want her to know is how she helped shape who I am. Mom, if you’re reading this (and I know you are because you’ve read every article I’ve ever written), here are 9 reasons I am who I am because of you.
1. Mom taught me how to stand up for myself.
I’m so glad I didn’t know this at the time – I would have never shown my face at school again – but I truly am grateful for the time Mom told off Mr. So-And-So (name is changed to protect identity) when I was in seventh grade. Ok, she maybe didn’t tell him off with birds and obscenities, but I know Mom can be one hell of a Mama Bear when she’s standing up for her cubs, which is exactly what she felt she had to do when I came home crying that Mr. Ahem never called on me in class. She raised her girls to be confident, and my teacher consistently ignoring my raised hand to call on the boys for the answers was hurting my confidence. Mom wouldn’t stand for that, and today I don’t either.
2. Mom taught me how to put others first when it really matters.
One of my all-time favorite vacations happens to also be the one and only vacation I ever took alone with Mom. Ironically, that trip almost didn’t happen. I was actually supposed to spend the week with someone else who backed out, and when Mom saw how disappointed I was she took time off work and pulled together a trip for just me and her. We went to Maine (that’s us, at left, ready to leave for the trip) and had one of the best times of our lives. She pulled through when she didn’t even have to, because she knew how much it meant to me.
I’ve tried every activity and hobby under the sun: dance, gymnastics, tennis, volleyball, piano, clarinet, saxophone, guitar; if you logged the miles mom has carted my butt around to the various classes, performances and meets, you’d go all the way around the world twice. Naturally, my favorite activities were the ones where she joined in. I loved taking a pottery class with her one summer as a kid. And I’ll never forget how special it was that she took adult dance classes when we were in dance (at right: we’re both glammed up for a dance recital; she’s doing my hair). Even last year, when I briefly took up sewing, Mom took a lesson with me just to be by my side. That support of my interests has not gone unnoticed.
4. Mom taught me to take care of my body.
Mom was always a walker. She would religiously walk the neighborhood after dinner for exercise, oftentimes alone. Eventually I began tagging along, and it ignited a commitment I’ve made to myself over the years: to lead an active life. Now, fitness is a huge part of me. I love many forms of exercise – I’m even a certified fitness instructor with six years of teaching group fitness under my belt. Mom is still my favorite exercise partner.
5. Mom taught me about being a working woman.
Seeing Mom dressed up for her corporate job – in heels and pants suits – carrying a briefcase out the door every day no doubt made an impression on me. I was motivated at a young age to have a career like Mom. She inspired me to work hard to get what you want, and now I’m wearing her hand-me-down heels and suits when I head out the door for work.
6. Mom paved the way for my writing career.
If there’s one person who studies every word in a writing assignment as much as me, it’s my mom. Perhaps it’s from those years and years and years of her staying up into the wee hours of the morning with me while I perfected my school essays and writing assignments. When I graduated from college with a journalism degree and became a writer and editor, she continued staying up with me while I read multiple drafts of articles to get the piece just right. Mom is a great writer and editor, and it’s no surprise I have a career in writing.
7. Mom taught me how to lead a diverse life.
Mom isn’t just any one thing. She’s multiple things because she spreads herself out in many areas. Thanks to her influence on me, I like to think I’m pretty well-rounded too, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. She didn’t just commit to one thing, like being a mom that only cooks or a mom that only works or a mom that only cleans. She showed me that you can live a balanced life doing a little bit of everything.
8. Mom taught me to be me.
When Hannah Montana: The Movie came out in 2009, I was 22 years old, but I wanted to see the movie. I knew none of my friends would join me, but Mom didn’t bat an eye when I asked her. Maybe it was the popcorn (she adores that salty treat), but it was a relief to not have to explain why I wanted to see this kid film. We went – proudly – to the theater together, with all the other moms and their 12-year-old daughters.
9. Mom showed me how to see my beauty.
Mom and I are essentially one in the same, except I am two inches taller with darker hair and have my dad’s nose. But we can complain together about our commonalities: our nails that don’t grow, our hair that won’t cooperate, our broad shoulders we inherited from her dad and our big gummy smiles. But Mom tells me daily that I am beautiful, and so I believe it.
And she is beautiful too.
Inside and out.
Happy (early) Mother’s Day! Thank you for making me the person I am. I love you.