I cannot tell you how old my mother, Lynda, turned on her birthday last week. It’s not that I don’t know the answer. I do. It’s that if I told you, she would give me that look, her renowned glare that has the ability to paralyze even the most fearless people with dread. I wish I inherited that look. And her height. And her figure. Also, her skin. My mom is beautiful.
Yet, I’m grateful for all the things I did inherit from a woman who I admire more than words can express. With age comes wisdom that only experience allows, and I’m old enough now to see my mother as more than just the woman who raised me. Becoming a mother myself changed all that. We may be very different people, but getting to walk in her shoes (figuratively, she has bigger feet), by trying to balance a career while raising children and maintaining a marriage to someone whose career often takes priority, and also volunteering to support everything her children wanted to do, until one day letting them go out into the world to figure it out for themselves, surely made my mother superwoman. Doing it all with class and integrity and also making dinner? Superwoman indeed.
My mom has been in the workforce since leaving high school to support her family. She was also a young bride. But one thing she wasn’t? Dependent on anyone. In the days before maternity leave, my mom worked while raising two young kids. She was good at her job, she was respected for it as the nucleus of her departments, the social convenor of building teams, and she most definitely paved paths for the women coming up behind her. While she never came close to my father’s work status or his earnings, that never diminished her sense of self-worth or her drive.
I know it was harder than she made it look because I live that life now too, but I appreciate that she taught me that a mother will make many sacrifices for their family, but sacrificing who they are as a woman doesn’t have to be one of them. Amen.
I will never forget being a kid in the passenger seat of her car, heading to the nail salon of all places, and my mother turning to me and saying, “Just remember, always make your own money so you never have to ask anyone for the things you want to do for yourself. You have to be able to do things for yourself that make you happy.” That stuck with me.
My mom would shrug off the label “feminist.” She simply doesn’t take any nonsense from anyone who doesn’t feel her voice or intelligence has merit. Lynda is not one to instigate trouble, but if you brought it to her, you’d be met with a force that was quietly effective. I didn’t inherit that either, but I enjoyed watching it. She doesn’t need to prove she’s right; she always is (ask my father).
Always a lady, because her self-respect never wavers, she has the ability to shock people with her quick wit. I definitely inherited that. My mom remains a force of nature. But her strength is in her compassion and kindness for others. She is sincere in her generosity. Ask anyone who knows her. I am grateful I inherited kindness too (though still a little bitter about the figure I didn’t get).
Happy birthday, mom.