Any of you who read this blog regularly or just know me personally in any capacity are probably aware of the fact that my mom is my best friend. We spend a lot of time together and even if we’re not together you can bet we’ve talked on the phone multiple times throughout the day. She calls me when she’s driving to work, I call her on my walk to the subway; basically if it weren’t for those anytime unlimited minutes on our phones we would be broke from just calling each other.
Regardless, I’d still dial her number every time.
Today is Mother’s Day (at least on my side of the world) and while a date on the calendar shouldn’t dictate when you show your love and affection for someone, it is a good prompt to take some time to reflect on the relationships in your life. I think about how lucky I am to have her as a mom every day but this Mother’s Day I have decided to take the time to reflect on some of the life lessons my mother has imparted and I’ve decided to share them here, not only to thank her but to maybe help pass those lessons on to others. So here they are, five things my superhero of a mom has taught me over the years:
1. How to speak up for myself
This was probably one of the bigger lessons I ever needed to learn. As someone who remained completely quiet while she was being bullied by her peer group, I was an easy victim. At many stages in my life I had found myself amongst friends who took advantage of me and it was something I struggled with on my own. My mom, to this day, confirms that she had no idea that this was going on until well after the fact because I didn’t tell her anything about it. Despite this, she’s someone who helped me out of it inadvertently. Watching her stand up to family members, co-workers, and others in life who tried to push her around showed me that I didn’t always have to be silent. She encouraged me to speak out when I didn’t agree with something or when someone was playing with my emotions. It’s been a difficult lesson for me to learn, especially because I just love avoiding conflict but learning this from her has been an important part in my development. It has actually allowed me to make certain friendships stronger and it has helped me cut out the ones that were toxic.
2. How to say no (thank you)
Whether it be FOMO (fear of missing out) or just the fact that I don’t like to disappoint people there have been way too many times where I’ve said yes to something out of obligation or to avoid conflict. I have put myself in situations that I didn’t want to be in and I have made myself uncomfortable just because I didn’t say no. Most of the time it was just going out when I didn’t feel like it or making too many plans and overloading myself. This is a lesson I’m still learning but it most definitely comes from my mom. She’s always been firm on the fact that sometimes it’s fine to just say no, I don’t feel like it today even if I don’t have a real excuse not to go. I’m not 100% there yet but becoming more comfortable with turning things down has allowed me to find a better balance in life and I have her to thank for that.
3. To work hard even when others won’t
Any time I’ve gone to visit my mom at her job I’ve always noticed how hard she works. She runs all over the place and she puts on this charming waitress demeanour that sometimes makes me giggle because it’s so not who she is. I can imagine her internally rolling her eyes and wanting to tear her hair out after every difficult customer. Still, she’s good at her job and she knows it. I remember her telling me a story about a new bartender cashing everyone out at night and seeing that her tip total was a a lot larger than the others, they asked why and she just responded with “Hello, I’m Tracey Miller.” as if that was enough to explain her excellence. Of course, it goes so much deeper than that. My mom is a hard worker, she isn’t lazy and she doesn’t tend to slack off even when she has the opportunity to. It’s something she instilled in me from a young age. It was why I was given so much responsibility in my part-time job in high school and I believe it is why I have succeeded in so many different positions. I go above and beyond in my work just like my mom, and I don’t half-ass anything.
4. How to have fun by myself
Recently this post showed up on my FB and I immediately shared it, excited that someone had put my feelings about doing things alone into words. I do a lot of things on my own and I know some people find that weird, especially since I have a boyfriend I could drag along with me, parents who will come visit whenever I want, and a core set friends who are pretty much down for anything when they are able to around (or when one of them isn’t all the way in New York City). But the fact of the matter is I’m comfortable on my own and I always have been. What I wasn’t always comfortable with was going out on my own. I would worry what people would think or that I’d get bored by myself so I just stayed home and did nothing. It probably wasn’t very good for me but thankfully over the years my mom has taught me this lesson by leading by example. It was nothing for her to take in a movie by herself and she always talked about how much she enjoyed it. I remember the first time in university I decided to do the same. It was awkward at first but in the end the experience was enjoyable. Now, it’s something I do all the time and it’s not just the movies anymore: I’ll go to dinner by myself, I’ll venture around a museum, or I’ll just head into the city to walk around. It’s something I’ve found is actually very good for my mental health and I’m thankful to be so comfortable by myself, even when I do have others to lean on.
5. How to come back from defeat and adversity
Finally, I think this lesson has been the most important. Without it, I would not be here. My mom has always been there for me when I needed it, she’d helped me through dark times that I thought would never end. More than that, she’s seen herself through hard times. I’ve watched her fight a hard battle with grief after losing my grandmother. I’ve watched her look out for my grandfather when he won’t take care of himself. I’ve watched her conquer through a complete lifestyle change after being diagnosed with diabetes. And most difficultly, I’ve watched her stay strong through some of the scariest days of our lives when I wasn’t myself and her fear of losing me was undoubtedly unimaginable. I’ve watched her hurt and cry too but that only showed me how it’s okay to break before you put yourself back together. My mom’s life has not been easy, there are others who have it harder but there’s been a few rough hands dealt out to her. Seeing her triumph after heartbreak and pain has taught me how to be more resilient and it’s helped me to keep going. It’s the lesson that gets me through every single day and it’s the one I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to repay her for.
I’ve been lucky in my life to have a strong circle of friends with equally amazing mothers who have taught me things as well. I have seen such amazingly strong bonds between the mother and daughters in my life through all sorts of good times and bad. I couldn’t be more thankful for that experience and I can do nothing but wish that for all of you as well. Happy Mothers day to all the strong mothers out there and to the women and men who have stepped up into that role as well, we’re lucky to have you.
Mom, I love you and I always will, thank you for being my superhero.