Everything that I am or hope to be, I owe to my mother.
Through the many stages of growing up, we’re asked numerous questions about our future, the main one being “What do you want to be when you grow up?” At each age, I had a different answer.
At 5 years old, I wanted to be a princess. At 8 years old, I wanted to be a dance teacher. (I also considered being an armored truck driver to secretly steal money.) At 10, I wanted to be a dentist. In the past few years, I’ve considered different careers in mental health or special education.
Only recently did I discover that I don’t truly want to be any of those things, at least not on their own. No, when I get older I want to be my mother.
That’s something that not many people get to say, but when I grow up, I want to be my mother.
This isn’t because she was born into or married into a wealthy family; it’s not because she got a job that would make her well-known with her face plastered on billboards; it’s not because she has had an easy and peaceful life with no struggles, heartache, or pain.
I want to be like my mother because of how she loves. Because of how, despite her struggles and pain, she grows and she cares all the more passionately and deeply. She doesn’t shy away from the responsibility Jesus gave us to love our neighbor as ourselves.
My mother’s childhood was disrupted by mental illness, much like mine was. OCD, anxiety, and depression intruded her vulnerable years in a time when people weren’t very aware of mental disorders. Due to her lack of understanding, she suffered for years without medication or knowledge of why she felt the way she did.
She kept going.
She began her life as a young adult in situations that would cause trauma and deep emotional wounds that many wouldn’t be able to handle. She found herself lost and hurting. She found Jesus and was saved, but the struggles didn’t leave.
She kept going.
Later in her life, she had blossomed into a beautiful stay-at-home, homeschooling, Christian momma. (She later fulfilled her dream of going to cosmetology school and becoming a hairstylist.) At this point, in my opinion, she deserved a break. She didn’t get one. By the time I was five years old, I was showing symptoms of the same disorders she suffered from when she was little. She now had three children, one with anxiety and OCD who had no idea why she felt so scared. So, my mother in her great patience learned to spot my symptoms and soothe my frightened mind and body.
She kept going.
Now, here we are. Many things have changed, but one thing is a constant: my mom. You may think after everything she has been through that she would be broken and tired. But, the opposite is true. She has conquered every battle and she has proof: her love, her compassion, her forgiveness.
I want to be my mother not because she didn’t suffer; I want to be my mother because of the way it doesn’t define her. Because of the way she keeps going. Because of her incredible strength, and her ability to be gentle and resilient at the same time. She used and continues to use every valley to grow into a better person. I can honestly say that I have never met anyone like her.
I’ve read that you should try to replace your name with the word “love” and replace “it” with “she” in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 to see if the scripture still applies:
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
Although I’m not sure if I can put my name in place of every use of “love”, I can confidently put my mom’s name. I want to one day look back on my life and say that I did everything I could to be like my mom.
I’m the luckiest person in the world for having my mom, I truly believe that. She’s one of those people who listens without judging, loves without motive, and forgives without hesitation. She’s one of those people whose laugh sounds like music and eyes sparkle with wisdom. She has a childlike curiosity and personality with all the knowledge of a well-lived life. My only regret is that not everyone could have her as a mom.
Momma, I know you’re reading this because you’re the first to read every single blog post. I just hope you know how much I admire you for your kindness, the way you put yourself in everyone’s shoes, the way you make the best of every situation, and the way you love. Thank you for every hug, every laugh, every act of selflessness, every time you dealt with my anxiety when I couldn’t handle it anymore, for knowing me better than I know myself, and encouraging me to keep going just like you. I love you to the moon and back. Happy Mothers Day!