I Am Not Like My Mother



I am not like my mother.


My mother worked full time, a single mother for many years, solely responsible for looking me in the face every single day.


Weary and exhausted from a long day’s work, she made sure that we had a warm meal each night.  If she had a complaint about this, I never heard it, not even under her breath.


I am not like that.


There were nights she would light candles and place them in between our dinner plates and we would drink our ice waters in fancy glasses.  We would raise our pinkies in pure delight and laughter as we shared what had happened that day.


If I had a heartache, she could spot it, a disappointment and she knew it.  When she was at that dinner table she had magical mind-reading abilities.  It was so good to be truly seen. 


With all that sat heavy on her shoulders, she was present when we were present, which was her greatest gift to us.


She loved to play the piano and for the first few years after my parents’ divorce, she kept her baby grand piano in the middle of the living room in our tiny apartment.  We would have to stand up and talk to each other on the other side of the room, which became hilariously normal after a while.


That piano proudly stood there as a reminder of something deeply sacred to my mother and I might never fully understand the pain that she must have felt when she eventually had to sell it.  The gaping void it left in the living room, a deep loss, was palpable after that. 


I would catch these glimpses of sadness in my mother’s eyes, maybe because life had not turned out exactly the way that she had hoped it would.  It did not stop her as she wore down the carpet on her side of the bed, marking it with the kind of perseverance that keeps going even when life gets really really hard.  She did not hide from the sadness or try and cover it all up all pretty. but let it breathe and heal and work itself out in it's own time.  


I am not like this, just yet. 


She made the best of the bad and she intentionally created a home that seemed to overcome the world.  No matter what I faced out there, the home that I came back to each day swallowed it all up.


I know, in a very rich way, the miracle of hospitality because of her.  I have witnessed the power in a mother’s ability to create an environment of acceptance and love in her home. 


My mother taught me how to dance, how to cook and how to keep a house.  She taught me that emotions are the beautiful human capacity to feel the world around me and not to be so scared of them all the time.


She taught me how to garden, how to decorate and most importantly how to laugh at the things that should honestly make you cry.  She encouraged me to write important things down, to use my imagination when I got stuck in a rut.  She allowed me the space to make the kind of mistakes that would be vital to my maturity and growth, but might break both of our hearts in the process. 


I am not like my mother, but I hope that I will be one day.   


I watched you struggle to make ends meet and to meet me at every end. I watched how you lived and I watched how you loved and I hope my life is as strong an example to my boys as the one that you showed me. 


I am rising up to call you blessed, because you have sacrificed so much to bless me.


Thank you, Mom. 


Happy Mother’s Day. 


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