According to my mom

I am really good at stuff.  Or so my mom tells me.  Also, I am a great writer (perhaps of all time), beautiful, smart, funny, with a cute "figure."  Or so my mom tells me.  Because my mom has only ever said words of encouragement to me.  Except perhaps the time I was about to drop out of college just before graduation to take an activist-type job paying decidedly less than minimum wage, but just a scosh above barely a livable wage.  (That was a good call, Mom and Dad.)

I'm sure in this age of parenting books and general parenting know-how, there exists a book written by a renowned child-rearing expert about this very topic.  That this type of over-encouragment of a child/middle-aged adult instead creates a massive ego and "me" complex.  That by boosting your child's inner awesomeness only serves to make them think that they, and they alone, are the best ever.  That this ridiculous kind of encouragement will ultimately lead to a lifetime of failed accomplishments, unfulfilling relationships, and a mediocre life at best.  

Well, parenting book and renowned expert (whoever you are)....may I respectfully disagree?  

My mom had confidence in me.  She believed in me.  l grew up enveloped in her absolute, shining love...for me.  When I saw myself through her eyes, I felt like I could tackle just about anything and be successful.  I developed an inner confidence, a voice (her voice) inside my head that cheered me on to keep trying, to work hard, and to make a difference in whatever I did.  And even if I failed, I always had a cheerleader in my corner who encouraged me to keep at it until I succeeded.

Because of her, I felt beautiful.  Even when I was going through my super awkward teenage years.  Not because she thought I was the next Christie Brinkley - random reference but remember my age, people!  She would always tell me I had a lovely (albeit) feisty spirit.  That my heart, faith, kindness and humor is what made me beautiful.  She taught me how to focus on what true beauty and success really look like.

It doesn't look like a stack of degrees,  a cover girl body, or a high-paying, high-powered job.  It doesn't look like the finish time to a race, the number of "friends" on Facebook, or even the number of friends on speed-dial.  It doesn't look like a perfect marriage, perfect children or a perfect house.

My mom taught me that none of that matters if your heart doesn't start in the right place first.  Because of my mom, I grew up feeling beautiful from the inside out.  And that kind of beauty doesn't fade with wrinkles and age spots.  In fact, that kind of beauty can only grow stronger with age.  Like my mom.

Because of my mom, I learned to see success in all its sizes.  In case you are worried, I know I am not the greatest writer ever.  But my mom's faith in me makes me want to work harder, to challenge myself to be better - whether it's at writing or being a mom.  Or simply to be a better human.  

My mom has believed in my ability to be more than I am my whole life.  She is my rock.  The person I know will always be honest with me.  And the woman who can still embarrass me in public.  At the grocery store, standing in line at check-out, holding my hand, looking at me with that smile, eyes beaming with pride because I just told her in great length and detail about something funny I said, or one of the kids said, or a recount of an SNL commercial.  It doesn't really matter what I'm saying, she's just having a moment where she loves me.  So she leans over and in a not so quiet voice says, "You are just so beautiful."

Ugh.  So embarrassing! I turn beet red as the teenager scanning our items tries to hide a giggle.  I'm 39, but as horrified as when she would say this to me at 16.  But just as I knew way back then, I know she is not talking about my face or my "figure."  What she sees when she looks at me is the person I truly am inside.  And she thinks that part of me is beautiful.

On April 24, an ER doctor told me my mom was very, very ill.  They had no idea what was wrong, but all he could tell me was that she was a very sick lady.  There were no words of encouragement from the team of doctors and nurses working over my mom.  They asked me to leave, to wait outside while they put needles in her and decided whether or not to intubate to help her breathe.

I felt numb.  Like I was standing on an iceberg of emotion.  And if that iceberg melted in the slightest I would be flooded with more raw feelings than I could manage.  So I prayed.  I made calls to let our family know.  My dad and I waited.  We sat in her room in the ICU.  I held her hand and kissed her forehead and watched, waiting for the first sign that today was not her day.  That today was not the day I would have to face the world without my mom.

And to my everlasting relief and gratefulness, today was not that day.  My mom turned a corner, the most important corner she will ever turn in her life, and began to heal.  Throughout the next two days she made enough improvements for us to all take a deep, deep sigh of relief.  As I drove home from the hospital the next night, I was overcome.  The iceberg melted and I sobbed and sobbed at how close we had come.  I don't know what my life looks like without my rock.  Without my mom.

I went back to the hospital the next day.  That day we got to laugh, marvel at how quickly things can change, hold hands, and join in a collective sigh of relief with my dad, brother and sister.  Then a nurse came in to adjust mom's oxygen and put in another round of antibiotics.  It was a quiet moment - mom had been resting and I was typing away at this blog.  Then I hear her say to the nurse, "Judy, my daughter Missy is such a great writer.  She has a blog and loads of people who read it.  Missy, you should read one of your blogs for Judy."

I am beet red, feeling 16 again and trying to hide behind my computer.  "Mooom," I say, not unlike a teenager, "I think you and maybe five other people read my blog.  Geez."

But inside I am beaming.  Because my mom is proud of me.  And my heart just bursts with love for her.  



  1. Holy cow Melissa you made me cry (which isn't all that hard to do anymore!! ha!). Love this blog. I think I need to go call my mom right now and tell her how much I love her! :)

    1. Have you become a crier these days, Heather? I think it's good for the soul. Good seeing you today and good luck tomorrow!

  2. Thank you. Perfectly said, can't wait to call mom and tell her how awesome she is.

  3. So perfect, your family blesses my heart! Thank you for the cry this afternoon!


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