4 Life Lessons From My Mom
Today is Mother’s Day! And it is the first Mother’s Day ever, that I won’t get to see my mom and spend precious time with her. Even when we moved to Cambridge in April last year, I was still able to head back up to Auckland to see her. But with the current lock-down restrictions, we’ll have to do a rain-check. I am really excited because in just a few short weeks my mom will be moving to Papamoa which is just an hour away from me, opposed to two and a half. Plus we will hopefully be heading out of level two at that stage. One of our favourite things to do as a family is go to a cafe, order some cake (mom’s favourite is carrot cake), as well as some tea or coffee and just talk for ages. Even when I moved out, I loved meeting up with my mom almost every weekend and just catching up before doing some shopping or watching a movie. It’s this type of quality time that I really miss spending with her, and I can’t wait to see her again! I was going to do a carrot cake recipe in honour of her and Mother’s Day, but because we are moving house in a week, most of our kitchen stuff is packed up and already over at our new place. But that recipe will make an appearance soon, so stay tuned!
When I thought about it a bit more, I realised that writing a post about the most important lessons my mom has taught me is a great way to show my appreciation for her and inspire you to consider all the wonderful ways your mother has made you become a better person. Now, I am not that naive. I know some people don’t have the best relationships with their mothers. Just as some people don't have any relationships at all with their mothers. For some, Mother’s Day is just another painful reminder of the parent you lost, which I can completely empathise with.
This post isn’t to simplify life, or undermine your story. Whether you have a good relationship with your mother or not, or whether you were raised by a motherly figure, or even your dad, I hope this day can be a way of expressing your gratitude and appreciation for whoever that is. And hey, sometimes Mother’s Day needs to be a day that we celebrate and thank OURSELVES for taking care of our needs - literally mothering ourselves to get up every day and keep going. My wish is for everyone to feel unconditional love today, and that always starts with unconditionally loving ourselves.
My mother is an extraordinary woman. She has been through more in her lifetime than some would experience in three. Yet, she remains the most generous, loving and open-minded person I have ever come across. I actually cannot put into words just how much I love her and how inspiring she is. Hell yeah, we’ve had our challenges. After my dad passed away I was an upset, self-absorbed teenager. My mom often saw right through that and always gave me the benefit of the doubt. But when I pushed it too far, or when I truly did make a mistake, my mom would draw a line in the sand and let me know when I had messed up and done myself, and others a disservice. The more I look back on my childhood and teenage-hood, the more I have to feel grateful for. Even if during the time I didn’t see the value in it, I am pleased to be able to look back and see just how much love and guidance I was given.
Since I was very little, I have wanted to be a mom. I even went so far as trying to feed some of my dolls real food! I used to attentively watch my mom and pick up on her mannerisms. To me, she was, and still is elegant, beautiful, bright and intelligent. I would practice talking like her and would sneak into her room to wear her high heels and dive into her makeup when she wasn’t looking. I even loved how she would play with her car keys, so guess what? I would take her or my dad’s car keys and pretend to be her! Which caused them a lot of stress, because I almost always forgot to put them back! I can’t tell you how many times I was woken up at 5:30am by my lawyer dad frantically trying to find his keys to get to work on time.
My mom probably never thought that anyone would admire her so much that they wanted to be her. That’s how humble my mom is. But honestly, she doesn’t give herself enough credit. In fact, she probably doesn’t think any of these things about herself, or is even aware of the incredible impact she has had on her three kids. So here are just four of the incredible lessons my mother has taught me. Among so many more, these are the ones that have really shaped the person I am today, and inspired me to be a better daughter, employee, dog mom, friend, girlfriend and one day, a good mother myself.
Mom's favourite - a cup of tea, a good book and someone to pull her hair.
1. How to be brave and change your life
As immigrants to NZ, my mom and dad taught me the importance of being brave and making scary changes in your life, if there is a chance they can lead to something better. Only as an adult can I fully appreciate how scary leaving Zimbabwe and re-starting your whole life with three young kids would be. Not only that, but after my dad passed away, my mom had the choice to settle for a mediocre job, or finally fulfill her dream of going to University. She was brave enough to ignore people’s advice that was rooted in fear, and decided to do something for herself, her future and for us.
She achieved incredibly high results across all papers, was the appointed class representative and made friends with people from all walks of life. Now, she is following in the footsteps of her mother and is teaching the next generation. This is bravery. She could’ve easily given in, sold our family home, settled for something less than she deserved and wanted. But instead, she got up each day, worked her butt off and bravely and unapologetically told her story, and took the future chapters of her story into her own hands.
Her tenacity and willingness to transform her life in the face of immense adversity, not once, but twice has taught me to continue showing up for myself, and others. Even when it would be easier to give in, curl under the sheets and settle for something easier.
2. How to be kind and never give up on people
My mom is the most generous person I have ever come across, and someone who will go above and beyond for a stranger, let alone her friends and family. She has stopped for lost kids, people stuck in the rain, stray animals (no matter their size). She has volunteered,, smiled at strangers and stood up for those who needed a voice in their corner. Despite suffering more than her fair share of loss, she has remained the most understanding and loving person I have ever met. When most would turn bitter and sour, my mom only grew sweeter and kinder and that has inspired me to be kind to everyone I meet. My mother’s high emotional intelligence really shaped us as kids, and I am pleased to say that we are all able to use that intelligence to understand even the most closed off and critical of people. My mom goes above and beyond for anyone in need, and often that means she has little time for herself. She constantly looks for the good in others and works hard to make people feel good about themselves. More than that, she never gives up on anyone. Not her bratty teenage daughter then, or her naughtiest students now. Couple this with her strong morals and her ability to stand up to injustice, and you have one well-balanced, kind but extremely strong person who is always in your corner. She has taught me to be sympathetic to the fact that each person is overcoming their own demons and hardships. It’s not our place to judge or criticise, but to love them, empower them and be kind, no matter what.
3. How to heal from loss and keep moving forward
As mentioned, my mom has had to endure a lot of loss. But this doesn’t define her negatively. What does define her is how much of her love for these people can be felt, even to this day. As well as how she has evolved from the pain of losing loved ones and becoming a better human because of it. The Universe is pretty poetic in how it operates, even when it comes to tragedy. Having lost her mother at only ten years old, after a battle with cancer that my mom and her siblings knew nothing about, my mom had a hole in her life. All three of them were robbed of the opportunity to say goodbye to their mother and spend special time with her. Then, they weren’t guided through the pain that comes from losing a parent or fully given the opportunity to grieve or ask questions. Years later, she lost her brother in a car accident that also meant her and my aunty never got to say goodbye. When my dad was diagnosed, my mom fought tirelessly to heal him. Having endured the shock and loss of her own mother, my parents made every effort to keep us in the loop, so that we were all able to radiate love, appreciation and joy towards my dad. We fought his tumour as a family, to the very end. We were all there to say goodbye to him, and even though that was incredibly hard, it would’ve been soul-destroying if we were never given the chance.
Through each loss, my mom gave herself the permission to grieve fully, allowing each emotion its own space. Then she would rise from it stronger than ever. She was gentle with us kids in a time when we needed it most, because she knew first-hand what it was like to lose a parent. When my best friend committed suicide, my mother was immediately there to comfort me through the shock. “Write it all out Ames” she would say, and because of this creative nudge, I was able to put things into perspective and heal. Even though there is still some healing for me to do, I have fully honoured myself, my dad and my friend by grieving, but also celebrating the lives they had.
My mom instilled in all of us that no matter what hardship you endure, you have to keep going. This advice was my lifeline during my final year of university. Depression after my friend's death was digging its claws into me, and I was so tempted to throw it all away and pull out. But day after day, I kept going and kept trying because that is exactly what my mother did. If I hadn’t pushed through, I doubt my life would’ve blossomed into all that it is now.
While everyone’s grieving and healing journey is different, I am so glad that my mom was gentle with us when it was all too much. Then she would gently push us to rise up again and keep moving forward. This very balanced approach meant we were able to feel our emotions and grieve fully, but also ensure that our life continued, that we didn’t wallow in the pain for too long and instead made something for ourselves outside of the darkness of death. Something that would be a legacy to those who are no longer with us. Not only did she help me understand how to navigate loss and give myself the space to feel, but she also helped me understand just how precious life is. She didn’t just teach me how to survive loss, she taught me how to thrive despite of it.
I mean seriously! Look how gorgeous she is!
4. How to let the light in
Heavy lessons so far folks! But if there is one thing my mom has inspired all of us to do, it’s to laugh and have fun! Laugh at ourselves, laugh at life, and make others laugh too, all while making the best of every situation. My mom has the best sense of humour and the quickest wit. She can turn anything into a joke and her timing and execution is bloody brilliant! We have so many wonderful memories of one of us doing something hilarious. Whenever we meet up, there is always a lot of fun and laughter. She’ll probably be embarrassed for me saying this but she has the best, and dirtiest jokes that would put most comedians to shame. This has taught me that while you can still be a graceful lady, you should never miss the opportunity to crack a good one. Laughter really is the best medicine, and even during our hardest times we’ve always managed to be a family that comes together in laughter and love. Life’s too short to be too serious! Choosing to be happy, choosing to focus on the good and choosing to laugh is exactly what lets the light in so that we can discover our true paths and live a full life.
As you can see, I have a pretty special mom. She has encouraged me to dream, to pursue goals, to be myself and to always live from a place of kindness. All while enjoying every moment of the extraordinary ride that is life! I am beyond grateful to have her as not just my mom, but my friend. I know her mother would be so proud of her for teaching us the most important lessons of all - how to live and how to love.
Happy Mother’s Day Mama - I can’t wait to be with you again xx
Amy Claire xx