The phrase goes, “Behind every great man is an even greater woman.” I’d like to expand that to behind every great person there is an even greater woman. I think most people think that woman is a friend or significant other, but I think they’ll find many greats get their power source, their greatness, their whatever they’re known for from their mother. I know I do. She is my rejuvenat-or, the one who helps me get up when I’m embedded in the ground. She is my spiritual guide, much like a student going to a sage. I explain the situation and ask what I should do or where I should go and she’ll rephrase the situation so I figure out what to do. She is the warrior and the nurturer, the stronghold and the garden of my family’s and my life.
She is my biggest fan so I know I have at least one in my corner. She thinks my work is brilliant but she’s also honest with me. She lets me know (politely/tactfully) when she thinks I’ve held back. She’s attended all my shows, good and hideous.
I am fortunate to be in the position I am in and she has made it possible. Some families put time limits on their kids creative endeavors, “Okay you can write but if nothing has happened by December, it’s time to get a real job.” She checks in to make sure I am writing but doesn’t ask to see the books (maybe she should).
My mom is one of the most accepting and tolerant people in the world. She used to teach kids with exceptionalities and I marvel at what she did with the kids (and some parents). Some of the kids had back stories and challenges that would make any movie drama look like a film about kittens. They thrived working with her and found hope for the first time. Maybe they did have a future.
When I was a little more politically active in college, I knew I could come home and talk about what I was doing. Some of my friends couldn’t, either their parents didn’t want to hear about it or vehemently disagreed with what they were doing. One got locked out of their house. My mom picked me up for a protest once. She had running shoes so I could run if need be, dog treats for the police dogs, and command words written in several languages.
I loved what I called our Sunday Chats. We’d start talking about something in the morning over breakfast. I’d hear stories about her growing up. I’d get all revved up and ready for the day. Those discussions were one of the ways I developed my empathy muscle, patience with other people, and learned there can be multiple sides to a story and it’s all about perspective and context.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if I end up half as strong as my mother, I’ll be in good shape. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, but especially mine.