I never knew my grandfathers. But while my parents were at work when I was growing up, I spent my days with one of my two beautiful, strong, funny grandmothers. Both my grandmothers have seen some tough things in their days- and both of them have remained strong throughout and have kept their sense of humor. I learned a lot by watching them- how to keep my faith, how to laugh about what you can’t control, how to tell it like it is. Thanks to my father’s mother, I learned how to play roulette at age 5 and spent many hours of my childhood spinning that little metal ball in the roulette wheel. She played Monopoly with us, convinced us that there was a real genie living in her bottle in the kitchen (twenty years later, Gram, I know it was your voice all along!). She let me eat three cheese-filled Oscar Meyer weiners while I watched the old Alice in Wonderland movie at her house (the one with real people, not the cartoon). If we were good, she let us pick out two things from the dollar store, which resulting in a weird collection of little cat figurines in my room. My mother’s mother let me play her piano and pretended like I was good, even when I wasn’t. She took me to swimming lessons and picked me up from preschool. She showed me both how to be a good wife and how strong love can be- she steadily took me to visit my grandfather everyday after he got into a car accident when I was a baby and remained hospitalized. She took me out to lunch and always let me get dessert. She brought my sister and I to the mall, where we tried on silly hats and laughed so hard our stomachs hurt. They continue to be two of the women I admire most in the world.
I’m lucky to have been raised by these two women. And I’m lucky, too, to have my stepmom, who is the exact opposite of every evil stepmom in a Disney movie. She is kind and funny and is always willing to be my own personal nurse when I have a problem. She helped my sister learn how to sew and let me play with all the scraps of fabric, which is all I really wanted to do. She taught me to wash mirrors with the lights off so that you don’t get streaks and she can get out literally ANY stain (trust me, I’ve tested the limits). She helped me when my anxiety was too much to bare and empathized with me during one of the lowest points of my life. Plus, she makes my dad happy too so it’s a win-win for us all.
And my mom- I’ve looked up to my mom for as long as I can remember. She’s been my best friend, my cheerleader, my doctor, my driver, my teacher, my chef, the one who sang to me every night growing up and who tucked me in far after it was cool to have your mom tuck you in. She planned my birthday parties and helped me with my homework. After my parents got divorced, she worked full time, drove a 45 minute commute every day and still made my sister and I dinner every night (which I marvel at, now that I’m older). She held my hand at the doctor’s office and let me eat blueberry poptarts for breakfast. She let me stay up for Survivor and made all holidays special. She took April vacation off every year so we could spend time together, always taking a day to go shop at the outlets and eat lobster rolls. She lets me borrow her shoes. She always encouraged me to do my best and never made me feel like my best wasn’t good enough. She continues to be the first person I call when something goes wrong, when I need advice, when I feel like the world is not on my side. She was the first one to point out to me in the beginning of my eating disorder that what I was doing wasn’t healthy. She helped me get help. She encouraged me and checked on me, even when I was annoyed that she did. She can tell, without even talking to me, when I am sad or anxious or stressed. She has an insane mother’s intuition that continues to boggle my mind.
Over the last 22 and a half years, I’ve learned a lot from her. I’ve learned that it’s okay to eat apple pie for breakfast. I learned how to make a macaroni salad that will make the neighbors jealous. I learned the names of flowers and birds and spend parts of my childhood with pressed up against the window with binoculars, looking at her bird book. I learned how to dress like an adult and how to wear socks that aren’t gym socks. I learned that it’s important to write thank you notes and to always keep Dove dark chocolates in the kitchen. I learned how to make the best waffles in the entire world (and I’ll go to the mat on that one). I learned that looking young isn’t always a bad thing. I learned how to be compassionate and genuinely care about other people. I learned how valuable being nice to people is. I learned that if you believe everything happens for a reason, then eventually you really will find a reason.
I’m so thankful for these women. The women who raised me, the women who made me. I continue to admire their strength, their humor, their goodness. And I’m lucky enough to have lots of other mothers in my life- aunts who aren’t related by blood, best friends’ mothers who became “second moms” in my childhood, my godmother, women who I’ve met in my adult life who’ve acted like a mom for me. To all these beautiful women and to all the mothers out there, I wish you a big, giant, over-the-top happy mother’s day. Thanks for inspiring.