I can’t read anything by Cheryl Strayed without feeling extra grateful for my mother. Strayed lost her mother in her twenties, and in all of her work, you see this giant, beautiful influence of her mother’s love and guidance. If you haven’t heard of Cheryl Strayed, do yourself a favor and Google her name. She’s incredible.
I was reading her book tiny beautiful things last night, and the theme throughout the whole book is love.
Love is weird. Love can be so many things and carry so many emotions, and at the end of our lives, it is really all we have to offer.
My mom teaches me that everyday. She says it so honestly and humbly, that love is all we really need. She doesn’t sound like a worn-out Beatles record, but instead like she is letting me in on the biggest known secret of life. We all just need love.
I have always had an idea of how things should be. How people should act. How I should act. What I should achieve, where I should live, what kinds of grades I will get. What love will look like.
I have learned that love doesn’t have one appearance. Love comes in shapes we don’t have names for, and in seasons we have yet to experience. Love doesn’t need to be said to be heard. The emotion of loving is so often embedded in the most mundane actions. The way someone touches your shoulder when you say you are sad. Or when someone plays your favorite song when you’re driving in the car. When someone runs to get the door when you are balancing four coffees in just two hands, and the way someone lets you over when traffic seems to be frozen in place.
Love doesn’t have to always be mushy, exploding in Hallmark cards, and dripping with kisses, and littered in letters covered with x’s and o’s. Love is everywhere. Love in deeply intertwined with kindness, respect, and equality. It’s what keeps this world going, even in we don’t want to believe it.
I am someone’s child, so I feel like I kind of have a right to say this: the best thing you can show your children is unconditional love. Because not only does it make them confident, strong individuals, but it sends a heart out into the world that is capable of loving the way you showed them. A love without borders, expectations, standards, and contracts. It’s a love that never follows the words, “but”, “only if”, or the words, “if you love me…”
It’s the kind of love I’ve been shown my entire life by my mother.
The moments I felt the most love in my life were moments where the word ‘love’ wasn’t even said.
My mom would brush back my hair, moving my bangs out of my face, and sing Natalie Merchant, “... she will be one of the wonders, God’s own creation.” She would let me sing in the living room even if she wanted some quiet time. She would set up tea parties on my bed and always give me the last Nilla Wafer. She would share her lipstick, and always celebrate even the smallest of accomplishments.
My mom has always been a reservoir of love for her children, pouring into us even in seasons of drought.
My mom calls me everyday. She tells me I am bright, and special. She tells me I am beautiful. She tells me she is endlessly proud of me. She reads books about being the most effective parent she can be, and she reads articles about life, health, happiness, and shares them with her children.
She is the reason for so much of my happiness and I can’t help but think she was meant to be a mother.
My mom became a wife at 19, and a mother that same year. She has four children and has had many years as a single parent. Sometimes I wonder how someone could have been so young, and so capable to raise and care for children. Sometimes I hear it in my mom’s voice that she feels she hasn’t done enough, or like she isn’t enough.
We don’t get everything right in life. But I think we get the really important things right.
Dear Mama, you have raised four children and poured enough love poured into their hearts to warm an entire nation. You have raised four children to believe that sharing our truth is the single most important thing we can do. You have been the constant light of my life, my compass, and my home. You have taught me how to appreciate the people who have hurt me, and you have taught me that I am important. You have let me wander the roads of life’s biggest questions, never forcing me to believe that your answer has to be my answer. You have.
Dear Mama, you have gotten all the really important things right.
Show someone you love them today. Happy Friday! xoxo