When I was younger my dad would drive us around, the entire family – I have no idea why we always seemed to be in the car, but I have so many memories of sitting in the backseat with my parents sitting in the front conversing about anything. My mom would sit next to my dad while my older brother and I sat in the backseat and my mom would talk about so many things that didn’t make sense to me. My mom loves talking, she can talk for days about anything and sometimes you’d wonder where she’d come up with some of the things that occupy her mind.
My mom cannot tell a joke for the life of her (because she’ll laugh at the punch line before she ever gets the chance to say it out loud) and her laugh is so infectious, before long she’d have the whole family in stitches without us ever knowing what the joke was about. My mom sometimes does funny things and while we may not understand why, all of us (my brothers, my dad, and myself) oblige because we know it is important to her. I remember, one Christmas she wanted to have a family candle-light dinner. She made us light all the candles that we had at home (which were about 5 tea lights) before turning off the main light. The kitchen was pitch-dark and we couldn’t see anything other than the small flickering light of tea-lights. Within minutes my then infant brother fell asleep, drinks were spilled, and food ended up in places it wasn’t supposed to be. She laughed so much that night.
My mom is a strong woman, she is a small woman, she is a brave woman, she is an amazing woman, she is outward a quiet woman, but can be a raging storm on the inside and you’d never know. My mom has gone through a lot of crap – things she couldn’t influence. She was on the receiving end of many things that should have never happened to her (or anyone for that matter), so many people that were not kind to her, but she not once said a bad word about anyone. If I were to speak my mind about someone, my mom would always throw me this look of disbelief and say that we don’t know why other people are acting the way they are. She’d leave it at that. She wouldn’t pine for justice, she wouldn’t react, she wouldn’t show any vulnerability. My mom is so many things that I strive to be. I am very protective of my mom, she means the world to me, because my mom – whether she knows it or not – has taught me what it means to be persistent, what it means to go hard even if you’re exhausted, she has taught me that resting is important and that happiness can mean many things. My mom – I tell you – is a woman of many strengths.
My mom has accomplished so much more than many other people will, she’s made a life for herself in a foreign country, she built and rebuilt and built up again her community around her, she kept on moving forward, when others tried to stop her. She works so very hard and so detail-oriented, and she always gives it her all, even when it may seem pointless to others, she has great pride and would never give less than 100 percent. My mom is a class of her own, she’s fearless – and sometimes she forgets how wonderful and amazing and strong she is.
The thing I love my mom the most for is her reaction to things that seem so big to me. Like when I told her, I was engaged, she got very quiet and then she cried happy tears and then she took that happiness and sent it out to the people around her that were not happy – like a boomerang, she threw her own happiness out there to see it unfold. When I told her about my choice to go to fashion school, or move to the US, or move to Norway, or do an undergrad, a post-grad, and start a PhD, move to Ireland, buy a car, decide to do anything that seemed unbearably big to me – my mom would tilt her head, she’d shrug her shoulders, her eyes darting up behind her reading glasses and in a very nonchalant way she’d pretend that whatever I just said was like me telling her that it was raining. While I’d be outweighing and obsessing about the deeper meaning, she always made it seem like any of these life-altering decisions were in reality minor inconveniences and that whatever the outcome was going to be – I’d be fine.
Don’t get me wrong, when I tell you about my accomplishments, I do (to a certain degree) expect some kind of reaction – but my mom? That shoulder shrug, head-tilt combo is really all that it takes to put any self-destructive thought out of my mind. The roles never changed – my mom to this day protects me, not from the world because she knows there is nothing she can do, not from the decisions I have to make, not from whatever else that could potentially influence my path in life – but she protects me from myself and the tendencies we all have in ourselves, when we think we may not be deserving or good enough or if there are things we cannot influence.
My mom has always been good like that – making sure that I keep pushing without ever pushing me. Allowing me room to grow and breathe, while secretly being scared senseless that whatever decision I could make, could in some way harm me. She enabled me to make my own path while standing tall and strong behind me. It is because of my mom that I am the way I am. She has from a very young age taught me to lift up others when you can and twice as hard when you have little left to give, protect and support and enable others and reminding them that all accomplishments they’ve done on their own merits.
While this is a love letter to my mom, it’s also a reminder that support may come from the least obvious places. It may not always be a straight-forward obvious reaction, it may just be a shoulder shrug and a head-tilt, but trailblazers rarely make an entrance – if anything, they do the opposite. They blast trails, making sure we don’t notice the commotions and still making time for our too busy and preoccupied minds. My mom is many things, she has a beautiful soul and I love her for too many reasons to mention here but I love her the most for having had the courage to always walking her own path and showing me how to do the same.