In honor of Mother’s Day, I am inspired to begin a series called 31 Influential Women in My Life. (Mind you, not 31 days in a row; this may take me a year to get these 31 days out, but that’s ok. Grace.)
For some of you, it may seem an obvious pick to select my own mother for a list of influential women in my life. But unfortunately, more than not, I have met adult women who do not have a close relationship with their own mom. And even more sadly, are the women who have toxic relationships with the woman who gave birth to them. When the person who is supposed to love you unconditionally does not or cannot show her child love, I don’t know how one recovers from that. How do you turn to your own daughter and try to love her if you’ve never experienced unconditional love yourself?
My mother and I (bottom) and myself as a new mother (top).
But that’s not my story. My mom is special. When she looks at me, I know I am (along with my sister) the most treasured jewel she has. Toni Morrison once said on Oprah that she learned her face should light up every time her children walk into the room, so they know, they know and feel, how loved they are. My mom’s face lights up every. Single. Time.
My mother is sunshine and a tiger all in one. You might think those two things don’t go together, but they do. Light emotes from my mother. When you are in her presence, rainbows and unicorns may appear. Beware: you will find yourself telling her your entire life story before you are cognizant of what you are doing. My mother loves a good story, and she believes YOUR story is just as important as any story she has ever heard. YOU are important to my mother. And although growing up, I was often annoyed with having to wait in the car while woman after woman told my mother their story, I intrinsically realized in those moments that women need other women for community, for support, for life. My mother taught me to be a good friend, to be a good woman to other women. Now I call myself a storyteller and that is in thanks to the many stories I heard sitting at the feet of my mother as she drew out a story needed to be told.
My mother’s belly burns with fire. She is the definition of an advocate. You want her on your side. When she is passionate about something, she can move mountains. I have seen it. Although her life long career was a nurse, she could have just as easily been a lawyer or counselor.
I have lived away from my mother for 20 years now. It seems an unfair fate to have us separated for so long. We treasure the visits we do have, filling them with new memories while reminiscing of old beauties. I see her mischievous look in my son and her effervescent joy in my daughter. So in essence, I have her with me every day.
To say she influenced me is an understatement; my mom shaped me. I rise up and call her blessed. And call myself blessed to be her daughter.