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She Raised Me but More Than That, She Loved Me

#storytimetuesdays is a few days early, for it's Mother's Day and I want to share today instead.

I will never forget standing next to my mom at church on Sunday morning and waiting impatiently while she said her what felt like, very long goodbyes to people after the service. To be fair, they were very long goodbyes, still to this day, I've never seen someone take longer to say goodbye than my mother.


But on this particular occasion, she was talking to someone new, I guess, because they had never heard our names before. My parents gifted us with uncommon names. I mean I hated it when I was little because all the cool girls were Lauren's, Jennifer's and Catherine's and here I was was running around with Hadley and nobody to compare it to....something I would later adore.

This new person in my mother's life complimented my name and I heard her tell the following story as I looked down at my feet and then up with complete confusion. As you read these next lines, be sure to include an accent of West Virginia meets Southeast Texas...

"Well, we were living in Florida and already had Megan and Blair and I went on a girlfriend trip to Key West and left the girls with Mark, their dad. That's where I learned all about Ernest Hemingway and his first wife's name was Hadley. I went home and said "Mark, if we ever have another girl, I want to name her Hadley." and Mark said, "We are not having anymore children."

But there I was, all of 6 years old, with a blonde bob on my head looking up confusingly at my mother, for certain she remembered differently. Stories like that stick with children, not out of pain. My parents loved me with everything they had, as much as they loved my sisters, but the story stuck with me. When I was a freshman in college, I had to write about my life and called my mom and reminded her of this and said "Mom, was I mistake?" and without hesitation she said (again, with that West Virginia/Southeast Texas slang) "No! You were a special surprise!". And with that, it was confirmed. I wasn't planned, but I was loved.

I think coming into this world as a special surprise was the caveat to how I have lived my life. I live so much of it with special surprises. Some I didn't ask for, some I tried to prevent from happening altogether, but eventually I loved all of them just the same. Just as my parents have done with me and my sisters. For the surprises brought me heartbreak and laughter and adventure and gave me stories, just like my mom reminds me, I bring to her. Yes, during those pesky teen years I brought plenty of heartbreak home to her and my dad, but their love never waivered.


My mom has always had a way of making me laugh, she raised me and made sure I studied in school and tried hard and likely without intention, she and my dad made certain I knew how to stand on my own two feet and be independent. Well not the stand on my own two feet part, that they did intentionally. But the independence, they likely didn't see how far that would take me, but she raised me to be this way, and she loved me for every decision I have made and will continue to make. She humors me with her stories, her laughter is contagious and her accent, well she doesn't hear it, but it brings us so much comfort and joy.


I remember after having a conversation with someone in Santiago, Chile who unbeknownst to me, was calling me about a job opportunity instead of an industry connections call, I called my mom on my way home from work that night. I said, "I might have an opportunity to move to Santiago, Chile." and her response was, again, without hesitation, "No". That was it. But she also knew I wasn't calling for permission, I was calling for discussion and mostly, for reassurance. My mom doesn't wince as letting me know what she wants, but also doesn't expect me, as an independent adult, always listen. Six months later, she and my sister drove me to the airport to take on an entirely new adventure, one of the most special surprises of my life as of yet. And when I called to let her know I was planning to go to India to get certified to teach yoga, without hesitation she said "why don't you go find an Episcopal priest and talk to him about it." To this day, I still don't understand that piece of advice. Except that it was her way of saying No, like she did when I brought up Chile, but she knew I wasn't asking for permission. I didn't go see a priest, I went to India. I wrote a weekly blog about my experiences and kept up with them via email as often as I could, and she was scared for my safety, but she raised me to be careful, and she loved me enough to keep me safe.


When I was living in New York, right after college, and decided to try stand-up comedy, my mother was thrilled. She was the subject of a lot of my jokes, and she could not get enough of it. She wanted to help provide me with material, intentionally, but it was her unintentional acts of love and living that gave me plenty to work with. When she flew up to see me perform, I'll never forget turning to introduce her before I began but saw tears streaming down her face and her eyes lit up with pride, so I refrained. I gave her, her moment to sit quietly with love.



My mom and I have not always seen eye to eye, she's four inches shorter than I am, so there is that reason, but also because of the path I walk is so different than the one she walks. Except for very keen important things. We walk our paths with love; we walk with the women who raised us speaking silent words of encouragement and a few of judgement in our heads; we walk with humor; we walk them with dogs who love us who chose to walk it with us; we walk with strength that was instilled in us by our mothers, sisters and for her, daughters, that we love; we walk with determination, some call it stubbornness.


To mom, thank you for raising me and gifting me the power of independence, but for always reassuring me, I never have to walk it alone. Thank you for loving me.

Thank you for being so proud and supportive of the women you raised, our stories are full of laughter and love and an abundance of choices and special surprises. Wait, I don't have a special surprise, I'm just saying, all the other kinds of surprises we have in our lives that we can recognize for the good that they are or the potential they have to be. Happy Mother's Day!


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