Several years ago my neighbor and I had an awkward conversation. I was asked to do a job at church that she had just had. When thinking about who would replace her she said to me, “I didn’t want it to be you. Anybody but you.” (OK?? I wasn’t sure what to make of that…) And then she told me that her husband made her feel better by telling her, “Tiffany has all that family support that is why she can do so much. She has her mom.” I think my neighbor was trying to tell me “you will do a great job but only because your mom is great and she helps you look great.” I am not sure what my neighbor’s motive was, but I kind of took her comments as an insult.
I agreed that my mom was great, but I wasn’t a loser either. Sure I might borrow my mom’s tablecloths and she might babysit my kids now and then, but my mom didn’t get me out of bed each morning. She didn’t make my meals and clean my house. She didn’t teach my church lessons or come up with all my ideas. She didn’t wake up at night with my kids and then pull off letter of the week. She didn’t organize my pantry and paint walls in my house. She didn’t plan my birthday parties or go into my kids classrooms. I could be given some credit for what I do.
Until two days ago… when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.
And I realized in a moment that my neighbor was right all along. I am nothing without my mom, or rather I am only who I am because of my mom. I can only do what I do now because I have had my mom.
A mom who is supportive and giving and kind and unselfish and helpful and creative and organized and resourceful and full of energy.
I can’t undervalue a happy childhood, loving parents, and a good example in making me who I am today. I can’t underestimate lessons taught, creativity cultivated and work ethic modeled. I can’t discount genes inherited and talents fostered. So while my mom might not get be out of bed each morning, she is truly a part of who I am today.
I am not worried about my mom dying yet. We don’ t have enough information and I won’t get worked up until I know more. But I am worried how life will change. I will have to learn to stand on my own two feet. (It’s about time that I learn how to make gravy.) And I am worried that I can’t call my mom to consult or complain or brag. (Moms are the only ones that you can brag to unapologetically.)
It will be a time of role reversal where she will need to call me to consult or complain or brag. And I will need to be the one who is supportive and giving and kind and unselfish and helpful. I hope I can be as good to my mom as she has been to me.