I wanted to execute a special brunch for my mom for Mother’s Day, but she had to work Sunday. For the previous two years, my cousins and I had done a themed Mother’s Day Brunch for our moms together, but I wanted to do something specifically for my mom and I. Because she had to work, we ended up having Mexican food (her favorite) for dinner Friday night instead. I got her a card, bought her some of her favorite dark chocolate covered almonds and that was that.
Everybody loves my mom. Growing up, my friends always loved her, the guys I dated loved her, and she’s always been the favorite aunt. Her coworkers love her, her students love her, strangers love her… she’s a pretty awesome human being. She’s a powerhouse at her job. She’s smart, loving, caring, strong, good with her money… she’s a planner, she’s creative, she’s funny, and she often has no filter. My mom is my best friend.
As a person who has never had a lot of friends, I’ve come to depend on my mom for a lot of things, and she has become the person who understands me the most. Struggling with anxiety the past year, she has shown me what it looks and feels like when someone acknowledges a struggle I’m having, even when they don’t understand it, and makes adjustments for themselves so as not to make me feel worse. I haven’t fully opened up to her about all the things I’ve struggled with over the years, but she knows me better than anyone else and she makes me feel seen.
My mother has a special way of connecting with people. Whether it’s people she’s leading, people she’s teaching, or people she’s taking care of, my mom has this unique ability to make people feel understood. She calms chaotic situations with seemingly little effort, and is able to resolve conflict between people simply by being there. I’ve certainly seen her get upset, but I can’t remember ever hearing her yell at someone. She is the glue that keeps our extended family together… she’s the glue that keeps our nuclear family together… and sometimes she does it at the risk of her own wellbeing.
When my grandmother died several years ago, my mom internalized so much of the stress from funeral planning, packing up my grandparents’ house, and wrangling her feuding siblings that she developed Bell’s Palsy. That was a stressful situation in itself, especially not knowing when it would go away, but she did eventually recover. She was also reminded that she needs to take care of herself in order to keep doing the things she wants to do for everyone else, and I’ve seen her implement practices to keep her stress low and take care of herself ever since.
And I don’t want to applaud her strength without making room for her vulnerability. The thing about a lot of moms is that they feel the need to be strong even when they don’t feel like it. The kids can fall apart, the man can fall apart, but she has to keep herself and everyone else together. I think there are plenty of moms who don’t feel like there is space for them to be vulnerable and take time to heal. I don’t just admire my mother’s strength, I admire her ability to walk away when things are no longer good for her, say “no” to things she doesn’t want to be part of, and refuse people who try to overstep her boundaries.
My mom is my safe space, and I lover her for that. Even more, I admire my mom for the woman she is outside of her husband and children, and I am constantly inspired by her.