Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day Musings

I feel especially lucky to have had a lot of wonderful women in my life. As I grow older, I've come to appreciate that all the more. As a mother myself, I now understand the level of commitment that these women gave to me and the sacrifices they made on my behalf. I was lucky. So many of us do not have the very thing that I had ... a variety of wonderful women to love me throughout my life. All of them serving such a huge part in my growth and development. Helping me, teaching me, believing in me. I thought I'd take a moment to honor some of them today ... to say thank you, to honor the relationships that made such a difference to me as a person and as a mother. I decided not to honor all of them today but to focus on the three that I've been thinking a lot about this Mother's Day. I'll be sure to come back to tell you about some of the others later.

This is me and my mother on my wedding day in 2001. If only all children could have mothers who were as wonderful as mine, the world would be a very different place. She has always, without a doubt, been behind me 100%, no matter what. Even when I didn't deserve it. She loved me unconditionally and has NEVER (not even once) let me down in any way whatsoever. She was there for every single important moment of my life, as excited about it as I was in every way. I never doubted for even a moment that she'd always show up and cheer me on. She believed in me and told me to believe in myself. She sacrificed in every possible way to give me the best life she could. She held my hand and cried with me when my heart was broken. She was the only person who I felt like understood how difficult it was for me to not get pregnant month after month during those 2 years we were trying. She was at the hospital EVERY SINGLE DAY of my time on hospital bedrest. She made that dreary hospital room into a home for me. If I can be even half the mother to Meighan and Alex that she's been to me, I will be doing great. She loved Samantha from the moment she laid eyes on her and has loved her as if she were her own grandchild for the past 12 years. She never for one moment gave me a hard time for moving our family to St. Louis, despite the fact that I know it broke her heart. And she never says anything about the move except how proud she is of me for making it. There is something special about growing up, knowing that you are loved, that you are appreciated, that you are someone's joy. I always knew that I was her joy. I still know that I am her joy. I am so thankful for all of the sacrifices she made for me. For all the love and time she gave to me. For the commitment she made to be a good mother. For following through and always showing up. For telling me I could do it. For telling me that she believes in me. When I'm feeling down, all I have to do is think of her and I am able to immediately feel better, to know that I can do it. That she's behind me. That she loves me. Happy Mother's Day, Mom. You have been an amazing mother and grandmother. We are truly lucky to have you in our lives.

In addition to having an amazing mother, I was fortunate to have what may be the best grandmother in existence. No really. She was that great. My Mimi was such a powerful part of my life that I am worried that I won't be able to put into words how critical she was to me as a child and as an adult. She was an amazing woman. Family was everything to her. And, I, her first grandchild, knew without a doubt that I was everything to her. She was a wonderful person to grow up with. She was very loving and affectionate - she gave me A LOT of hugs and kisses. She told me all the time how much she loved me and how much I meant to her. She played with me. She laughed with me. She sang to me. She made my daily life fun. I reveled in every moment that I spent with her. I was never afraid if she was there. She could calm my fears and help me to see things in a new light. She encouraged me to have fun, to enjoy life. She spoke to me as if I were an equal, I never felt that she spoke to me like a child. She reinforced my love of reading ... heck, she encouraged it. She always had a stack of books at the end of the couch, waiting for her to dive into when she was done getting all the day's chores done. Trips to the library with her are some of my favorite memories. The librarians always knew her and she was at home there as I was. She taught me the value of giving your time by volunteering countless hours at a local hospital. She loved my grandfather and I learned so much about marriage and commitment by observing their relationship. She told me that I could do anything. She told me that I was amazing. She sheltered me from any storm. When I was frustrated, she was there to listen and offer advice. She always saw the best in me, even when I didn't deserve it. I hope that I told her enough when she was alive just how important she was to me. I think she knew but I worry that I didn't say it enough. It's been almost three years since she passed away. I miss her EVERY SINGLE DAY. I wish she was here. I wish that I could talk to her again. That I could hear her laugh. That I could see her beautiful smile. She was an amazing woman, wife, mother and grandmother. I'm so glad that I was able to know her so well. That I was able to spend countless hours with her as a child and as an adult. She gave me so much. And I try every day to be a legacy to her love of life and family. To keep our family history alive. To honor her and all she gave to me. I miss you, Mimi.

This is my step-mother, Nina, who I am so grateful to know. I don't tell her nearly enough how important she's been to me and my life. When I look back, I'm amazed at how little I appreciated her and her place in my life for so many years. I wish I'd understood the gift I had in her. She loved my father and, despite my not making it easy for her for a long time, she loved me. The step-mother/step-daughter relationship can be difficult. I know that I didn't make it easy for her. In fact, I tried hard for a long time to make it difficult for her. I wish that I could go back and change that. But, I cannot. I was an adult before I came to understand how fortunate I was to have Nina in my life. How I had created this monster in my mind that defined our relationship. How what I created in my mind wasn't real. It was silly, childish and disrespectful. I'm sorry that I spent too much time not appreciating her place in my life. Since that time, I've tried really hard to make up for those years through getting to know her and appreciating all that she brings into my life. When I saw her with my sister for the first time, I was amazed at how I felt our relationship had transformed. It wasn't my sister, it was me who changed. I am thankful for how much she gave up to love me. That she never tried too hard or too little. How much bad behavior she overlooked. How she never made me feel like I was unimportant. How she always tried to make me feel a part of their family. It was a long road until I was able to feel like we were in a good place. But, we are. Which is amazing. She loves my children as if they were her own. In my mind, they are her grandchildren and I hope she agrees. I want them to know her and appreciate her for the wonderful person she is. I am thankful that she's my family. That I've been able to know her. She's talented. She's strong. She's interesting. I'm glad she didn't give up on me and that she doesn't hold my past behavior against me. And, I'm thankful to have her - my other mother.

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