Half the Woman My Mother Is
Sometimes, I speak and my mother comes out of my mouth. Sometimes, I can hear her in my voice, in the phrasing of my words. I can sense that even my facial expressions are not original to me but borrowed from her. And this brings me joy. If I become half the woman that my mother is, I’d be honored; I’d be blessed; I’d be unstoppable.
With half her brilliance, I’d be a force to reckon with. She taught me “learning is living,” words she inscribed in a book she gifted me 20 years ago. She taught me curiosity was only dangerous when we quit before we find our answer. Mostly, she taught me that our intelligence comes from ourselves.
It cannot be determined by someone else. It needs no validation or definition from others. I watched her rise up to positions of leadership time and time again, armed with just her mind and her persistence. I’ve witnessed her begin over and over with each military move. She armed me with college diplomas to ease my way in the business world, but still nothing can supplant that value of our natural, inquisitive mind. With just half her mind and with the ladder she has provided me, I could take over the world.
With half her spirit, I would practically be a faire folk. I could prance up the side of any mountain. I could dance at its peak. I could ride my way back down in a red wagon, squealing with laughter. If I let go of my restraints, my hesitancy to release half the unbridled, abundant spirit that my mother possesses, I would find freedom. I remember being on my bed, sitting on my feet as a pre-teen with my sister beside me. We watched enraptured as she taught us how to dance. She taught us how to move the body, not just the feet, not just the hips, but how to move the body in sync with the spirit within. My mother’s uninhibited, abundant spirit breathes life into a room, it illuminates the darkest nights. It whisks you on adventures. Even the mundane is a wilderness that can be explored. In any place from the ocean to the backyard to even TJ Maxx, she finds whimsy, excitement, and novelty. I live my life guided by the spirit of my mother, seeking wonder in the ordinary.
With half her fierceness, no one I love would stand a chance against the bullies of the world. I could face any storm, mock its intensity with my own superior ferociousness, knowing full well I can weather the wailing winds and the hammering hail. With half her strength, I would be a force to reckon with. My mother is a lioness stronger than any woman I have ever known. My mother has endured the greatest nightmare a mother can face: the loss of one of her babes. She has suffered her worst fear, the most terrible tragedy. Even in her darkest hour, even as her heart was still shattering, my mother never ceased being a lioness. My sister would be proud; my brother and I are blessed. She continued to mother each of us. She protected my brother, directed my shocked self to take a safer course of action. Wounded, she continues to fight for us, to love us, to worry and fret over our grief, to encourage and support our dreams. She continues to honor the one she lost and find ways to still build her legacy. She protects, guides, and loves us all. Every day, she is fierce, even when she is depleted and desolate. Every day that she picks her shattered self up, every day that she finds laughter again, every day that she continues to dream and encourages us to dream, she is a lioness. She models resiliency, perseverance, stubborn drive.
With half her love, I can grow gardens in the souls of people. I can bring light into lives of others. My mother’s love has helped her children fly. Her selfless love wanted us to soar to incredible heights even as she fretted below, worrying over us, fighting the urge to protect us by grounding us, pinning us down. In the greatest act of love, she taught us how to be self-reliant, how to leave the nest, how to soar. She empowered us and gave us the resources, knowledge, and character to succeed, to live daring, independent lives. She taught us to be free, and that love is what keeps us coming back. Wild creatures that her children are, we always come home to her. She loves us each for ourselves, our uniqueness. She loves us in our triumphs and failures. She loves us in our moments of weakness, selfishness, ridiculousness. When we feel heartbroken, she admires the pieces, loved us in the mess, and shows us the way to wholeness again, to loving again. Unconditionally, she loves.
She is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known, ever will know. She is flawed and multifaceted. Each weakness carries authenticity: each facet holds a unique perspective and incredible talents. She is wise, always right, and yet makes mistakes. She is curious with childlike awe. She is creative. She is passionate. She is wonderful. My mother is the woman I aspire to be: unbreakable spirit, unshakeable fierceness, unabating love. If I am lucky enough to become half the woman she is, oh what a woman I will be.
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