Mother’s Day is this Sunday, and for many of you this might be your first time celebrating as you are preparing to enter into motherhood, or are entering it yet again. On this special day, we would like to share some of the most valuable lessons we have learned from our own mothers… a tribute to the phenomenal women who have sacrificed physically, mentally, and emotionally to roar us into existence and rear us into adulthood — our mamas!
My incredible mother has taught me countless things that have made me the woman and mother I am today. She is an amazing person with a zest for life, travel, and memorable experiences. My favorite lessons happened early in life, ironically, during a time my mother has held in regret. When I was a young girl, my parents separated, and my mother decided to go back to school for her bachelor’s degree. During this time, she held a full-time job and took more than a full-time class load. She finished her four-year degree in two years time and graduated at the top of her class on the Dean’s List. That part of her life was full of sacrifice in terms of time, sleep, and money.
She told me that as a mother, she will always regret that time because she feels she missed out on two of my younger years. I never knew that she felt that way until I myself was a mother of three with a fourth on the way, working full-time and going to graduate school for midwifery. I was experiencing that same guilt. It’s interesting how perspective makes all the difference… I don’t remember that time negatively. I remember seeing my mom work hard and being really proud of her when she graduated and achieved her goal! I remember not having a lot of money, but her buying a homeless man a sandwich because he was holding a sign that said he was hungry. I remember spending “just us” time on Sundays at the bowling alley, when games were at a reduced price. That time taught me about hard work and dedication. It taught me about the importance of charity and quality time with family.
As an adult reflecting on her account of that time, I learned that “mom guilt” is real, but can be completely unwarranted. A child’s perspective is a lot different than a mother’s. As a mother, my advice to you is to be sure to ask your children how they feel — don’t ever assume. I know that when my mom thought she was failing she was actually demonstrating to me the perfect way to succeed!
I love you Mama. Thank you for teaching me about things that really matter, and for showing me how to be a good mom. Thank you for showing me how to make my dreams come true by following yours! ~Corrianne
My sweet mama has taught me countless things, but the lesson I value the most is the importance of LOVE — spreading love, existing in love, loving, loving, loving. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done, or what you believe… my mama believes in loving everyone, and she loves them so well. She’s fierce and she’s protective. But she’s also so patient and so kind. She stands up for what she believes in, but she always does so with a tender and open heart. She’s a calm in the storm, a wise confidante, and a gentle, dedicated nurturer. I try to emulate her in all I do. She (along with all the mamas!) certainly deserves to be celebrated more than once a year. ~Savannah
One of the many best pieces of advice my mom Lonni has given me is “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” It may seem obvious, but this is actually hard to do. It takes effort and attention to learn to recognize the explicit and implicit biases we carry. And it takes effort and attention to uproot these biases in order to meet each person who crosses our paths with non-judgment and true openness. This work is fundamental to interacting and acting justly. ~Meagan
My mom always used to make sure I had a quarter in my pocket when I was a kid so I could use a pay phone to call home… there, my age is outed! When I got older, she always made sure I had cash in my pocket (or shoe, or bra) when traveling or to pay my own way in an emergency. I have continued to use this advice to this day, and it has helped in many situations, from leaving my debit card at home accidentally, needing gas, or even just using it for a bit of self care when the need arose. Having emergency cash in a safe place separate from my purse is something I always do to this day. It gives me a sense of security knowing that I can take care of myself. ~Erica
The best advice I’ve received from my mom Sandra was not in the form of formal advice, but more of an example of her actions and interactions with the world, modeled to me throughout my childhood. When I think of my mom I can actually feel smiles and laughter… maybe I’d describe it as a twinkle? It’s truly a sense of contagious joy to be around her. Her loving and positive energy is something she really enjoys giving away and passing around, and what a beautiful gift I was given through watching her do this. I’m not sure if she is even fully aware of this, but I know from watching her over many years that Sandra takes it as a challenge if someone is a little grumpy, unfriendly, or sad, to make their day brighter. She finds a way to make almost everyone laugh or at least crack a tiny little smile, by telling a joke, being goofy, giving a compliment, asking questions… anything to engage and make us all feel a little more connected and human! Growing up with some very real social anxiety, I would squirm and look away, tugging at her to come ON, as my mom chatted and conversationally prodded her way into a back and forth with the grocery store clerk, bank teller — whoever it was — whom often looked like they very clearly didn’t want to be engaged with this chirpy happy stranger. Then, when I could hardly stand to stick around any longer, all of a sudden, the unengaged, sad, or grumpy-ish person would finally crack a smile or laugh, soften a bit, and be in a better mood for their day, for that moment, in that one little interaction. It’s like magic, honestly. She just keeps going until that faint moment of softness appears and a smile comes out, and then she promptly says goodbye and we make our way out of wherever we are, a little happier and lighter after a nice laugh.
I’ve realized as I’ve grown older that it’s little moments like these, which feel really beautiful and spontaneous in life, that I cherish. There’s no such thing as too much smiling — I’m convinced! I’m so thankful for my mother’s big personality and commitment to positivity and loving humans… I know it has absolutely rubbed off on me. The socially anxious, quiet little girl who couldn’t stand these overbearing interactions now makes it a point to put down her phone in public, ask questions, remember names, and collect smiles and laughs. In each moment in life, it is truly worth finding joy. Thank you Sandra, for showing me this, over and over again. ~Lauren
Thanks Mom, for teaching me the value of stopping to appreciate the sunset whenever we can! I love you and can’t wait until we travel again! ~Robin
Although she’d likely not call herself a feminist, our mom Dotty is one of the strongest female figures in our lives… smarter than anyone else in the room, incredibly accomplished, and ready to tackle anything. Coming out of high school in a small Texas town, she joined the Navy and became one of only two female electronic technicians in her class. In her 20s she double-majored in physics and calculus, both male-dominated fields. As a young mother in the early ’70s, she chose to birth naturally and co-sleep, and to breastfeed — when everyone else she knew was using formula. She made her own bread and made our baby food and our clothes. She fiercely advocated for women’s rights, to be respected and treated equally to men. When our family needed extra cash, she took a job managing a laundromat, not to wash the clothes but to keep the machines in good working order. In 1980, she and our father decided to build their own house — the house they still live in 40 years later — and she was fearless. She refreshed her math and technical skills to create the blueprints, and then she wired the entire house while helping to build our walls, floors, and roof to code. She showed us that, quite literally, women belong at the top of the ladder, and that we could do anything we set our minds to do. She did all this on a shoestring budget taking care of her three kids plus the neighbors’ kids, two dogs, cows, pigs, and chickens, and a 1/3-acre garden. She set an example of physical and mental strength that has carried our entire family through good times and bad. She also got degrees, made meals, sang, played piano, read us books, supported our education, taught us computer programming, edited our papers, and helped us pass college calculus without even looking at a book to refresh her memory. She’s always done more than her fair share at their church, and she believes in miracles. She gives and gives to anyone in need, always — older people with health issues, refugees, neighbors, stranded people, and stray dogs. She taught us the true meaning of the phrase, “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” She still shows up whenever and wherever she is needed, and loves our babies as much as we do. Thanks, Mom, for being an example of kindness, excellence, and adventure. We love you! Happy Mother’s Day! ~Shelley and Laura
In our family, the magic of creating the nosh in culinary artistic style can be such a powerful language of love. My mother has certainly had an influence in this regard, helping me pass on the magic to my own daughters… to share what you have with those you love in simple abundance. It is a beautiful thing. “Bread and water can so easily be toast and tea.” ~Susan
My mother and I always had a very conflicted relationship. It was easy for me as a child and then as an unruly teenager to blame her and be angry with her. We disagreed about almost everything. I moved out of her home when I was 17 and we spent about 4 years completely estranged. We were never the best friend mother and daughter duo that some enjoy. However, as we both became older, I started to understand her in a different way. This was especially true when I had my own children. The understanding wasn’t immediate or complete, but gradually as I have parented my own children, I have understood some of the struggles of every mom, and in particular, some of hers. Sometimes a mother’s and child’s temperaments are a bit mismatched; sometimes we have not had great role models for parenting; sometimes a parent has a mental illness; sometimes a parent has an addiction issue; and sometimes generational trauma is passed down like eye-color. Every mother has had days where they feel that they have completely failed their child/ren or question their decisions or their ability. In those hardest of times, I felt that I could understand my own mother more and have more empathy than anger for her.
My mother was diagnosed with cancer in June of 2017 and died in November of 2019. I was lucky enough to be able to be there for her. I took her to chemotherapy and radiation, I was her pain-in-the-butt home nurse and pestered her to drink more water or take her medications, I cooked and cleaned for her, I made hard calls to ambulances, doctors and family members, and I worried about her when I wasn’t with her, our relationship was turned on it’s head and I was given the opportunity to mother her. I am forever grateful to have been with her those last few years and for my sons to have had a very special relationship with her. To have seen her that vulnerable and sick was more than distressing, but it helped us move into a new realm of our relationship. In that realm I knew her and myself more deeply. I saw her determined to live her life on her terms and how strong and stubborn she was… and how much like her I am.
This will be my 9th Mother’s Day as a mother and my 2nd Mother’s Day motherless. I will love and honor my imperfect Mother as well as my imperfect mother self this Sunday. I wish you all a wonderful Mother’s Day full of love and compassion. ~Alisa
Every day I spend as a mother makes me realize how amazing my mom is. She did all this, and did it alone?! She is fiercely independent and amazingly resilient. Strong and brave, calm and quiet. She taught me self-reliance, and that saying less often says so much more. I think I tend to forget she is more than a wonderful mom; she is a wonderful person. I love you, Mama!! ~Tracy
Everything good that I know, I learned from my mother. My mother, Karen, a.k.a. Grammy, is a wise and gentle soul. She has taught me patience, compassion, understanding, and how to love and laugh. She has supported me unquestionably and with her whole heart. She is part of the reason for my love of birth; it was through her own empowering birth stories that I became mesmerized by my mother’s strength, the strength of women, and birth as a powerful and normal life event.
When I was only 20 years old, she scooped me up and brought me back home after a failed marriage and a new baby, never shaming me or making me feel less than. She gave me the courage I needed to continue to pursue my midwifery dreams even as a single mama with a very young child. In all of my mistakes and not-so-great judgement calls, she has always been there to help me get back up and do better, be better.
Many years ago, I was lucky enough to attend her retirement party from a local behavior health group where she had been a social worker for many years. Nearly every person in that room, from front-end staff to provider, stood up and talked about what an amazing clinician and person my mother was. Over and over and over. It was so moving. I was a wee midwife then and I remember thinking: “If I am loved and regarded even a fraction of this, I would be so thankful.” It was this honoring where I really had the opportunity to see and know my mother in a very different way. And I realized truly how honored I was to be her daughter.
Mama, you have always been my biggest supporter and rooted for me even in the face of adversity and heartache. You have always shared your wisdom with me and have guided me when I needed it most. You are a loving grandmother to all of my sons and you are a fierce caregiver, giving your whole self to tend to others. You have given me your shoulder and wrapped your arms around me so many times with no judgement. You have been there with every triumph and every loss. I truly couldn’t have been gifted a better woman to call my mother. Happy Mother’s Day to my kind, brave, and fierce mother. ~Abigail