May is the month to celebrate all the women in our lives. In this post, you will read the journey of two women and the lessons that they have taught their daughters. You will first hear from Xiomara.
For many, one of the coolest aspects of adulthood is learning and understanding one’s parents on a deeper level. I’ve developed a new appreciation for who they were, what they’ve lived, and who they are today, especially, my mother. I’ve come to recognize that my mother is more than her many assigned “role(s).” She is more than a daughter, sister, caregiver, wife, and mother. She is a woman above all else. A woman with her own aspirations, desires, and dreams.
In early adulthood, I became very interested in her story as an individual, not just as my mother. Through her story-telling, I truly saw the strength of the woman in front of me. I connected with her through the coming of age experiences we all encounter as women. My mother was no longer someone I held on a pedestal. I saw her for who she was, a woman that made mistakes, persevered through the pain, and became a warrior.
Imagine a young woman, boarding a plane with a one-way ticket to New York City. She lands in the Big Apple to realize that she has left the only home she has ever known and is in a city where she doesn’t know what awaits her. She and her degree in Education are welcomed by factory work, long days, and the exhausting beauty that a big city offers. She marries, has two daughters, and relocates to other cities in hopes of building the life that she dreamed of for her family. Due to some unfortunate events, the woman went from being a wife to a single-mother of two young girls overnight. She now had to work two jobs so she could feed her children; not her dreams.
Strength, selflessness, and unconditional love is what I have learned from the woman that landed in New York 46 years ago. So, why is it that this woman who represents everything to me is apologizing for not giving me more? Does she not know the gratitude in my heart for all of the experiences she gave me? Yes, I am even grateful for the Christmas where there were no gifts because bills had to be paid. That year, I learned the true meaning of Christmas and got to experience unconditional love. A love that I couldn’t break or get bored of like I would with some toy.
So, mom, don’t apologize. Through your story and example, you taught me bravery and courage. You taught me the importance of creating my own life with my own rules and standing alone when needed. You taught me that compassion and love are the most important values in life. You continue to show me that a mother’s love and a woman’s love for herself, can heal all wounds and can move mountains. You have taught me that with age, one never stops dreaming!
So, today, on your birthday, I celebrate ALL of you.
ALL that you were, ALL that you are, and ALL that you will become.
With nothing but admiration, love, and respect,
When I think of my mom, I feel tremendous love and peace. But, it wasn’t always like that. During my teenage years I heard people/family describe my mom as being blunt and what some would call a “bitch.” But as I grew older I understood that people labeled easily. My mom was not a bitch, not even close, she was just honest and unapologetic. I learned many things from my mom during my formative years. I could write many pages on it, but today I’ll keep it short by sharing some of my favorite lessons.
Lesson #1: Be fierce, be bold, be blunt, and smile.
When I was 12, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I don’t ever recall my mom talking about cancer. I found out because my dad told me and my brother, explaining mom would be undergoing medical treatment. During that phase of her life, my mom attacked cancer head strong, with courage and faith. She survived. As a young lad, I didn’t realize it then, but she role modeled how to confront challenges as they come, without taking the victim role but the proactive and empowered role.
Cancer came and left my mom without her right breast and a hole in her armpit, with a wide and very visible scar. As I write this my eyes fill up with tears as I remember how she tried to hide her scar as the years went by. She never had the chance to undergo a breast implant. As a woman, I can recognize the trauma her body and her self-concept experienced. Nevertheless, she smiled. She always smiled.
Lesson #2: Love & Forgiveness
Cancer was nothing for mom compared to my dad’s years of infidelity, yet my mom loved my dad. Many times I asked her why she wouldn’t leave him. She never really had an answer, just her love. Dad would leave, but he’d always come back. Sometimes a day later, sometimes a week, sometimes two months later. Mom never dated anyone else. She forgave dad every time. It took me years to understand where her forgiveness came from. Love is powerful, and so is forgiveness.
Lesson #3: Believe in your Spirit
Mom didn’t graduate college due to a war in her country at the time. But, that didn’t stop her. She started working as a receptionist, then becoming an administrative assistant to “big bosses,” and eventually starting and managing our family business, alongside my dad. Our family business sustained us and brought us together in many ways. I was still in college when my mom approached me to ask if I’d facilitate a workshop on self esteem. I consented and that became one of many workshops I facilitated for our business. She believed in me. She believed in my fierce Spirit. My dad did too. My mom was always proud to say I was in school getting ready to pursue my passion. She was so proud. She still is.
As an adult, mom got sick during my late 20s. Cancer came back with a vengeance. My mom took on the challenge and never stopped dancing, even if it meant with an oxygen tank on her side. Her Spirit was ready and spoke to mine. I then learned about spirituality and connecting through Spirit.
My mom transitioned seven years ago. She was fierce, she was bold, she was my best friend. I miss her every day, some days more than others. The beauty of her transition is that our love never died. She is still with me and I with her. Our love just changed in the way it is expressed.
This is for you mom because wherever you are I know you are receiving this too.
I love you Indi!