One day visiting my grandmother, I was in the guest bedroom when I noticed a photo on the dresser. I asked, “Where did you get this black and white photo of me? And where are my bangs?”
She said, “That’s not you. That’s your mother.”
Browsing old photo albums, I’m occasionally shocked by how much my Mom and I look alike.
I’ve gotten a lot more than just my looks from my mother, and I’ve been thinking about that a bit as we celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend.
My mother went to college at the end of the 1960s. She shared the story of walking into her marketing class, and the instructor greeting her with, “Typing’s down the hall, honey.” My Mom didn’t let that stop her. She earned her diploma and started her career–and never learned to type. Seriously, you should watch her write an email.
My Mom was also an avid sewer. Some of her biggest projects were her own wedding dress and several prom dresses for both herself and her daughters. She taught me how to sew, but she also taught me that I can sew, cook, push the lawnmower, work in the garden, paint a room, refinish furniture, speak my mind, manage my money and choose my own path.
My Mom enjoyed her career, but when she became pregnant with me, she quit her job and became a stay-at-home-mom. She and my Dad decided it was important to her to be present in that way for their kids. Even though I was there, I look back now with a completely different perspective on the situation. I cannot imagine how my Mom held it together as well as she did when she was always on duty for four kids. The experience of having my Mom always there is a really, really formative part of my identity. And she’s still always there.
My parents are truly partners, and that has had a huge influence on my own marriage. They view each other as equals and appreciate each other. My Mom handled a lot of the financials and did whatever was needed for my Dad’s business. My Dad valued how she took care of the house and us kids. Although there were lots of “Mom said no. Let’s go ask Dad” moments, when it came down to it, Mom and Dad were always on the same page. They problem-solve together, share the same values and put their kids first.
My Dad is sick, and my Mom has taken on pretty much everything to do with the house, their lives and his care. So far, I’ve not seen anything my Mom won’t do for him. Sometimes it’s hard for me to accept how much she’s taken on and how little help she’ll accept, but it’s definitely given me new understanding of “for better and for worse.”
The biggest thing I got from my Mom is to be true to myself. She may not always understand my decisions, but she’s always on my side.
However, being true to yourself is an area where I sometimes don’t feel like my Mom has given herself the same opportunity that she gave her children. I hope that she has more opportunities to sew, to garden, to fix up the house, to spend time enjoying her children and grandchildren–to do the things that give her joy. That’s my Mother’s Day wish for my Mom.