My mom is a very prideful person, seemingly incapable of uttering three simple words: I. Need. Help. Remember when she moved our refrigerator all by herself? I know — pretty impressive stuff.
Here’s the thing, though: She doesn’t think any of this is even remotely impressive. Or remarkable. Or anything of the sort. Any time I try to bring her Wonder Woman tendencies to her attention, she simply scoffs and says, “Oh, come on…” But what she doesn’t realize (stop rolling your eyes, Ms. Bear!) is that all these acts of strength have shaped everyone around her. I know they’ve shaped me — the life lessons I’ve learned and the woman I’ve become. So what better day to think about some of those lessons than on her birthday? Of all the things she’s taught me over the years — and, naturally, there have been thousands — these are the top four…
1. Life is littered with painful moments, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful: My mom has this knack of finding beauty all around her, even when the dark clouds seem to be everywhere. It’s not an exaggeration when I say that I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t have her cheering me on for the last 12 years. It’s not that she denies that bad things do happen in life or pretends they don’t affect her; instead, she takes from them what she needs and looks ahead, with her head held high at all times.
2. You can tell a lot about someone’s character by how they treat others: My mom always seems to have a kind word for everyone. She’s like a gigantic ray of sunshine bursting through people’s lives. Sometimes, a dose of that sunshine will mean more than you’ll ever know. Don’t be afraid to reach out.
3. Sometimes it takes more courage to cry: My mom has never shied away from her emotions, which is something I’ve always admired about her. She may be strong, yes, but she’s in touch with her emotions. And that distinction there can make all the difference in the world. Being strong for strength’s sake — maybe it’s stoicism? — will only end badly. Trust me on that one. But truly feeling your feelings and being vulnerable? That’s a beautiful thing and can be part of true healing. That’s how it was for my mom, and thankfully, it’s been part of my grief journey as well.
4. Life is about finding joy in the little things: My sister and I have always said that our mom is so childlike. We don’t mean that as an insult — it’s actually a compliment. She’s able to look at the world with the sort of wondrous eyes that are able to see joy. She’s a genuinely happy person, which, sadly, is becoming something of a relic these days.
Happy birthday, Ms. Bear! I doubt I’ll ever be able to thank you enough for everything, but I do hope you know just how much I love you! Thanks for standing by my side all these years! xoxo