Happy Mother’s Day to all you mamas, grandmas, and godmothers out there! On this day of celebrating the women who have dedicated their lives to us, I thought I’d write a bit about my mama and what I’ve learned from her.
For a few of my most formative years, my mom and I were on our own, together. It was a difficult time in some ways, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it. While I played hooky from school to go on business trips with her (or sometimes due to lack of sleep from watching too many reruns of Nick at Night in her bed) our bond formed and strengthened.
My mom has taught me so many things, not only through her words but also in the way she lives her life, leading by example. Here are the top three things she’s taught me:
One can be a successful professional and a wonderful mother at the same time. I learned the value of ambition, determination, and hard work from a very young age. My mother knew what she wanted to do when she was five years old and has made her dream come true, I think more successfully than she could have ever imagined. She worked her way up from being a rehearsal pianist in dinner theaters to being the Musical Supervisor of some of the biggest shows on Broadway and coaching some of the biggest names in the world.
Being a successful professional and a single mother simultaneously wasn’t easy. At times, it meant that she was gone a lot and I spent many nights with my (wonderful) babysitter Indra. This got to me a bit when I was a kid, to the point where I suggested she quit her job and work at the McDonalds down the street. My campaign for this career change wasn’t succesful, thank goodness. Despite all of this, watching my mother build her career was an invaluable lesson and one that I wouldn’t wish to have learned any other way. She was able to be the most wonderful mother in the world while also becoming one of the most successful people I’ve ever met.
You get to choose to make life beautiful, every day. When I was growing up, every morning before school my mom would wake me up with music (usually James Taylor), candles lit, and the table set for breakfast. Despite the fact that she had usually been up quite late working and could have chosen to sleep in, she always wanted to make our mornings together special. When she’d make my lunch, she packed it in a paper bag with different stickers on the bag and inside there was usually some kind of positive message she had written.
She emphasized making daily tasks feel special. When making tea or coffee in the morning she always had me pick which mug I was in the mood for that day. If she made me breakfast or a snack she would arrange it on the plate in such a way so it looked like a beautiful little treat we were indulging in. Whenever we walked down the street she would point out New York-centric sights, or beautiful flowers, or intoxicating smells.
She taught me that you get to choose to see life beautifully every day. The gift of that is, when you choose it, you don’t have to be somewhere special or to be having a particularly great day. You become accustomed to seeing and creating the beautiful things everywhere you go.
Forgiveness and love are the most precious gifts you have to give. My mother is the most forgiving person I’ve ever met. There have been situations where she has been betrayed on the deepest level and she has been able to respond with love and kindness. I have watched her react to people who have taken advantage of her or treated her less than favorably, and she always chooses to diffuse their power with love and kindness. She “turns the other cheek” in the most beautiful way, never disrespecting herself but displaying to others that her loving spirit will not falter. She has taught me that this is one of the most invaluable things you can offer another person and the world.
My mom is truly one of the most special women I’ve ever known. She is not only my mother but my best friend and mentor. I am so grateful to have her in my life on this rainy Sunday.