Friday, May 10, 2013

Fabulous Friday: Mother's Day Edition

"No great thing is suddenly created" - Epictetus

Whenever I sit down to write a mother's day (father's day/birthday/anniversary) card, I try to think of something fresh to say to tell the person to whom I am writing what they've done that has shaped me, inspired me, challenged me, molded me. After a lot of cards and a lot of years sometimes I struggle with new words to say thank you.

A few years ago I went to a poetry slam in NYC. I heard an inspirational poet, Jon Sands, perform, and I started following him on Facebook to keep up to date with his work. Recently I read this article that he had published about his mother. In the article, there was a quote, and in it I found the words for my own thank you to my mother. He wrote,

"I can see all that I have inherited in this life from work my mother did before she ever knew me..."

Before my mother ever knew me, during all those years she thought she would never have children, she was doing the work and becoming the person who would be able to give her child innumerable gifts, gifts I have inherited simply by virtue of being her daughter.

My mother has embarked on a amazing new venture in the past year. She is working to open a charter school. I have moaned about it because the work has made her extremely busy, extremely stressed, and extremely invested in her job. At a time when most people think about winding their careers down, she is ratcheting hers up. And then last night I went to a talk by the celebrated author and educational activist, Wes Moore. He spoke about the absolute unequivocal necessity of having adults who champion kids who, in a multitude of ways, are undeserved. In that moment, I thought about the magnitude of what my mother is trying to do. She did a lot of work before she ever knew me. And since she's known me, for, oh thirty years now, she has done a lot more. She didn't stop pushing herself. And because she pushes herself, I know I need to push myself. In his article, Sands talks about his mother's desire, the one that lends itself to his title, that if she die, it matter. My mother is leaving a legacy, whether this school ever opens its doors or not, that will matter. Not just to me, not just to her family, but to her community, and potentially, as those people in her community spread their wings, to the wider world.  That's kind of a lot to live up to. Damn you, Mom.

In honor of Mother's Day, to each of you who is a mother, think about the amazing inheritance you give your child by virtue of having grown up to be the person you are. And for those of you who have mother's (all of you, I'd be inclined to assume), think about all the work that went in to creating your life before you were even born. And say thank you in whatever (and whoever's) words you can find. 

Happy Mother's Day to each mother out there, particularly my fabulous one.

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