I Am My Mother
With Mother’s Day this Sunday it’s impossible not to think of how inextricable my mother is to my being. Needless to say my mom holds a special place in my heart. I’ll never be able to separate myself from her not only because she’s the vessel through which I arrived here, but because I’m her in so many ways. Sometimes I feel like the older I get the more I need my mom. She’s my anchor and my teacher.
Out of my siblings I look most like her. Even though we’re separated by thousands of miles, living on opposite coasts, I see and hear her all the time. I have her expressive face. I have her boisterous laugh. I have her hands—“piano fingers” that were passed down from her father. We share the same mannerisms: talking with our hands and bursting into song and dance when the mood hits us. She even comes out in the inflection of my voice. My mom is full of unique characteristics but I didn’t always appreciate her.
When I was growing up I was embarrassed that my mom seemed to care more about my well-being and whereabouts than my friends’ moms cared about theirs. One time when I was 17 and didn’t answer her phone calls she showed up at a school event to make sure I was ok. I was playing volleyball at a 24-hour walkathon and there came my mom at 2 AM, wandering toward me in a trench coat and tennis shoes with her hair disheveled. I was mortified. She just wanted to know I was safe. She’s always been a fierce, protective, lioness of a mother.
When I was in college almost two hours away from home she would drop everything to make sure I was comfortable. Sometimes that meant bringing groceries from New Jersey to Philadelphia to stock my apartment. Another time it meant taking that same trip in the middle of the night to pick me up when I was intoxicated and had smashed my phone to pieces.
Mom and her cubs
My resourceful mother covered all her bases when it came to her litter. She made my siblings and me laminated photo IDs on our family computer when we were kids, in case anything happened to us while we were out from under her watchful eye. One year for “crazy hat day” in elementary school I woke up to find my mom had spent her night making my sister and me elaborate head pieces out of an old piñata. She plans everything meticulously, making sure she prepares for anything that could go wrong.
Somehow even in all her careful and coddling ways, she still gave me space to be my quirky, explorative self. She usually defended me or was the mediator when my dad didn’t agree with something I wanted to do, like pierce my nose when I was a freshman in high school. She was always willing to hear me out and bend the rules for her artistic wild-child who needed extra room to flourish.
Like so many awesome mothers do, my mom put herself last and her kids and husband first. I may have taken her for granted in the past but I certainly don’t now. It’s times when I’m sick, or when I have to take care of some administrative work that most remind me of how clutch my mom has been throughout my life. Just a few days ago she took time out her day to write an invoice for me when I got overwhelmed. She’s an irreplaceable, built-in personal assistant whose services I couldn’t afford if she weren’t my parent. She’s out of my league. I’m not worthy!
I admire her strength and willingness to stop at nothing to protect her family. I love that she’s unapologetically herself. As I navigate adulthood I try to think of how she would handle certain challenges when I make decisions. When I can’t figure it out I call on her. I’m blessed to still have that privilege. I hope to adopt her positive traits, whether I become a mother or not. For now I’m happy to be her look-alike apprentice.