Sunday, May 13, 2012

It had to be you.

A big part of succeeding is believing that you will.

A big part of believing you will is entrenched in how you feel about yourself.

A big part of how you feel about yourself comes from how you are taught to see yourself.

A big part of how you are taught to see yourself comes from your upbringing.

A big part of your upbringing involves the person who serves as your earliest primary caregiver.

A big part of your earliest primary care comes (quite often) from your mother.

So no matter how you slice it, a big part of you is her. 


Today is Mother's Day. I am a forty-one year old daughter, mother, wife, physician and self-professed go-getter. I try to live my life with intention and make an effort to pay close attention to the life I've been given. That's what I'm doing today.

I have tried to do a lot of things in my life. Some things I have done successfully. Others have not worked out in my favor. But one thing I know for sure is this:  Nearly everything I try or have tried to do, I've gone into it thinking I can win. I truly have. Thinking and believing that everything from rollerskating backwards to becoming a physician were things I could possibly succeed at doing.

And I've felt that way for a long time.

My mother has a lot to do with that. She told me early and often that I was smart and capable and creative and talented. She told me with her words, but more with her actions. She listened to my stories and read my little books. From as early as I could remember, she showed me how much I mattered. Through her attention and her sacrifice, she always has. She laughed at my jokes and drove me to all of those activities like Girl Scouts and Drama and any other random thing I decided to explore. To this very day she still does. . . .although my "little books" are no longer half-folded and stapled notebook paper but instead a collection of random web-based tales. My mother instilled in me--through her unwavering support--this idea that a lot of things were possible for me. So at some point, I started to believe it. I started believing I could win.

And I still do.

I now know that this is half the battle in most things. Just thinking something is attainable. This I know for sure.

And honestly? I also know that having a mom like my mom is not promised to everyone. Living to be forty one has helped me to know that part for sure, too. I know that some mothers are broken people who hated themselves so much that all their energy went into that exhausting emotion. Because anyone who has ever participated in the exercise of self-hatred knows that it can be a full time job. Leaving no time for loving or building up kids.  And let me tell you, knowing that this is the case--even for some of my dearest friends and readers of this blog--I am all the more careful to be thankful for my own mother.

I am.

I've said here before that I think a parent's primary job is to love their children enough to keep anyone or anything from robbing them of their innocence before it's time. Once innocence is lost, you can't have it back. All you can do is try to rebuild. Some slug it out and figure out how to live the closest thing to a normal adult life that they can. And even those people still have drawers filled with all of those broken pieces from their childhoods--those pieces that came from broken mothers or broken caregivers.

Some others have too many broken pieces to stuff into drawers or closets. So they, too, live broken lives.

Then there are those who did have wonderful mothers but who no longer have them here.  So this morning, even if they are mothers themselves, Mother's Day is bittersweet. Some part of it is spent weeping and deeply missing her in a way that is almost unbearable.

I am thinking of them, too.

Some are in between all of these. Or don't even know how to feel about their mothers. And you know? They, too, are on my mind today.


It would really have been fine to just write a quick love letter to my mother on this blog today. But, you see, here is the other thing I learned from her: to think about others and how they are feeling. To experience joy, yes, but to still pay attention to what is swirling around me. So, thanks to her, I can't help but do that.

Thanks to your comments and blogs and friendships and conversations, I have some ideas about who is swirling around these words today. Friends who are mothers. Friends who are grandmothers. Friends who are daughters and sons. Friends who are filled with joy. Friends who are mourning. And friends who fight every single day to put those broken pieces back together before the cycle continues.

So, yeah. I'm thinking of all of you. . . . right along with my own mother. And the mother who raised her up to be the unbroken woman she is.

And my mother would approve of that. I know she would.


A big part of me succeeding is believing that I will.

A big part of me believing I will is entrenched in how I feel about myself.

A big part of how I feel about myself comes from how I was taught to see myself.

A big part of how I was taught to see myself came from my upbringing.

A big part of my upbringing involves the person who served as my earliest primary caregiver.

A big part of my earliest primary care came from my mother.

So no matter how I slice it, a big part of me is her. 

Happy Mother's Day, Tounces aka Grandma Shugsie. I'm glad it was you. Because for me to be me, it had to be you.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . . Harry Connick, Jr. sings "It had to be you."


  1. Beautiful post! I am sure your mother is very proud of you! Happy Mother's Day! Your boys are so blessed to have you as a mother!


  2. Thank you!
    It's an honor to be the daughter of a phenomenal woman, the mother of four extraordinary adults, the mother-in-law of two more exceptional adults, and the grandmother of six amazingly wonderful children who are loved, cherished, and nurtured in ways that destine them for greatness.
    My heart is full - too full for me to write more without doing the ugly cry.

  3. Happy Mother's Day to you, and to your mother!

    I am grateful to your mother today because she made you possible. I am grateful to my mother today because she made me possible. I thank your mother today because she has kept you safe and whole. I forgive my mother today because she couldn't keep me safe and whole.

    I am grateful to you today for being a person who is observant enough to see and thoughtful enough to acknowledge the drawers full of broken pieces.

    I am grateful to you for being a mother today, and not simply a biological mother but also a medical mother, for imbuing two amazing future adults and dozens of talented future doctors with your spirit.

  4. I have felt this way for much of my life . I like you have been blessed with a wonderful mother. What a wonderful difference this has made my life.

  5. We have been so blessed beyond measure for having been born to these mothers of ours, haven't we? I am so full of gratitude for that today, as I should be every day. Thank you for the reminder of just how singularly fortunate we are for these amazing women in our lives.

    Happy Mother's Day to YOU, too... your boys have been just as blessed in turn.

  6. Regular commenter who wants anonymously give a shout out to those who became they mothers we weren't born with. It's absolutely wonderful to hear stories of the love between mothers and their children, even in light of the fact that some of us had Moms who were more like the one in the movie Mommy Dearest that Claire Huxtable.

    Still, I proudly celebrate Mother's day with the knowledge that the generation of Moms like you, me, and other women begins with ME!!!!

  7. This made me cry (and BTW hearing that you thought about me was probably the most special moment of my day). This post is beautiful. It is a real testament to Shugsie being an amazing mom to have raised a woman who believes and IS strong, smart, beautiful, confident and who makes such a big difference in this world. A great mother loves all of God's children and that is what you do. Happy Mother's Day to both you and Shugsie! I know you are raising two fine boys who clearly love you. I also know when they are old enough to really take in all of you -- all the good you do, they will be so proud and they too will pass on what you've given to them. I just adore you.

  8. I am grateful for you and for the mother who raised you.
    I really am.

  9. Awesome. Happy Mother's Day, Mizzle! I'll see you & Tounces next weekend!


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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