Mother’s Day 2013 was my first as a single mom, and my mother gave me a card.
On the outside, it resembled your average store-bought card—pretty, but not particularly unique. When I opened it, I expected to find the same handwritten words I was used to seeing every year:
That was my mother. Thoughtful. Classy. Kind. Proper.
One thing she wasn’t? Vulnerable.
So on that day in May of 2013, instead of the usual “Love, Mom,” I was shocked to read the following:
I can’t tell you how proud I am that you are my daughter. I am also in awe of the mother you have become and how you have handled all that you have gone through these past few years….
I almost dropped the card. These words couldn’t possibly be from my mother. She was a very serious person. Thoughtful. Classy. Kind. Proper. Not one to show much emotion. After all, she was a doctor. She had to be composed and perfect and live by the “never let them see you sweat” motto that governs the world of high achievers—no matter the circumstances.
To read these words from her was the best Mother’s Day gift I have ever received.
Because the thing we really want most in life is not something you can buy.
What we want is to be visible, to be truly seen and heard and understood for who we are and not who the world wants us to be. And with my mother’s words, I felt all of these things. She saw me. She understood my pain. And still, she was in awe.
My mother was in awe of my broken life. In awe of the way I had ugly-cried on the phone to her so many times and fallen to my knees on the bedroom floor in despair and walked into a lawyer’s office alone and lit a match to so many years of my existence. In awe of the way I had struggled to stand up, hold my head high, take my children’s hands, and stroll shamefully through life on the other side of the fence—the “divorced” person’s side—watching people stare at us and whisper to each other as we walked by.
So much of my journey had been ugly.
Still, she was “in awe.”
For that bittersweet moment, everything was suddenly okay. Her words were a healing dose of self-confidence that came straight off the page and landed right in my soul.
This Mother’s Day, I hope we will all remember that the best gift is something that we can give to our children, not receive from them. We can connect deeply with them by telling them we’re in awe of the way they’re doing life.
Society has placed our kids in such a pressure-cooker that they don’t even know what they’re good at anymore, because they’re supposed to be good at everything. And when they’re not, their self-esteem goes straight out the window. People are quick to point out failure and cast judgment when things don’t go right.
Mothers, unite. Let’s tell our kids we’re in awe of them. Of the people they are becoming. Of the gifts they’ve been given, whatever those might be. Of the mistakes they’re making. And of the courage and strength they are exhibiting everyday by taking on this daunting world, even when things get ugly.
Let’s be in awe of our children. It’s tough out there.
I lost my mother to cancer in 2015. And sometimes, when life is really hard and my string of pearls goes flying and I need another healing dose of self-confidence, I’ll get out her card.
And I will hear her voice from Heaven telling me that she is still in awe.
Happy Mother’s Day, friends.