Truth be told I work because I could never be a stay at home Mom. Don’t get me wrong, I have enormous respect for Mothers who stay at home raising their children. I truly believe God calls them to this vocation. A friend of mine once told me “It is easier to go to work than it is to be a stay at home mom.” She was right, I’ll admit it I am just a coward. A coward because deep down inside I am afraid I could never live up to my Mom and the numerous women who helped shape my life. These were undoubtedly strong women, women of opinion, courage and substance. Some describe me as quiet, meek, mild and sometimes even an anomaly, as my manager would say, since my profession is sales and marketing. But the key to my success is not talking but listening and this is what our Moms did so skillfully responding in insightful ways acting on their gut feelings. The last words I heard my Mom say to me were I love you as I boarded a plane from Rochester, NY to Boston. My last sight was of her pointing and pleading in a very stern voice to the flight attendants – “Take good care of my daughter and her son John!” Ever commanding she knew they were carrying her precious cargo not only me, my son John but her soon to be born grandson Thomas. We had just visited in early May, Mothers Day weekend and she passed away suddenly the end of the month 10 days before Thomas was born. I am so grateful to have had the chance to spend that time with my mom, reflect on what it was to be a new mom and ponder how my mother had really become a mother at a very young age to so many individuals. At age 13 she traveled to NYC during the Great Depression to work as a nanny commandeering a large household for a well to do family, cooking, cleaning and raising three children earning $15 a month. Ten of which was sent home to support her mother, father and younger siblings.
My Aunt Helen, nine years her junior often told me my mom being the oldest girl in their family was also the bossiest! She was the 2nd in command after my Grandmother. My grandmother was also a very adventurous women having come to America the turn of the last century at the tender age of 16 on a steamer ship from Hungary with her father all as a result of a bet with her girlfriends. They bet she would not venture to America but she came, saw, fell in love and lived the rest of her life here as a mom, teaching herself English, taking in boarders, doing laundry for other people, raising 5 children and still giving, always giving at Sunday Mass, much like the widows mite. She was truly a woman of grace, living modestly, working hard and praising God. What a life of courage and fortitude! I was very fortunate to have my grandmother live with my family from the time I was 14 years old until the year I was married at age 26. Those years flew by and were filled with laughter, awe, stories I will never forget and something I long for my children to have in this fast paced world we live in, a sense of family and roots. We are all knit together in our mother’s womb by the hand of God but are shaped by the mothers we live with or are exposed to in our lifetime. Women of this magnitude die to self each day for us, the greatest form of love. They attend to us in their own time, own way through their physical presence, time, treasures and talents or in their prayers as they are always there for us.
It is true I will never be a perfect “TV” mom but I have been profoundly influenced by many great women over the years… My Mom the best care giver, home maker, baker, advocate & listener. Grandmother – story teller and grace filled adventurer! Sister – entrepreneur, dreamer, & business woman. Numerous Aunts – one who owned a children’s clothing store and gave me my first job at age 14 in retail, co-owned restaurants, were stay at home moms, professional singers and models. Mother in law – inspirational angel. Sister in laws & their mother‘s – many who are artists, talented seamstresses & unbelievable cooks. Friend’s & their mothers – lawyers, scientists, engineers, marketing professionals, artists, and some suspect Martha Stewart’s clone! Cousins and cousin in –laws who are professional bakers, Evangelists, teachers, social workers, nurses, and coffee / artisan shop owners. They do it all and more because they love us.
I once had a picture book when I was a child entitled I Can do Anything Almost… With love and devotion these women encouraged me to be the best that I could be, challenging me to shoot for the stars and do anything I chose to accomplish. I have been truly blessed by their presence in my life.
Maya Angelou, the poet / writer once said – I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Wherever you are close your eyes for a moment and remember your how your mother made you feel – enclosed by your mothers hug, the first time she kissed you on the forehead or smiled and made you feel like you were the most important person in the world, her favorite.
Now go and see, call or pray for your Mother and the women in your life wherever they may be. Don’t text, don’t e-mail, and just really be present for them! Wish them a Happy Mother’s Day and let them know how much you appreciate them being in your life.
Abundant flowers my mother gave to me many years ago surround my house, transplanted from NYS to MA – peonies, tiger lilies, blue vinca, snow on the mountain and Lilly of the valley. When I look at them I picture her enveloping my world as she loved flowers and caring for flowers, tending to them and us, her garden of life. May each of you feel the warm presence of your mother everywhere this beautiful Spring and may God bless mothers everywhere on earth and in heaven! Love Mary V. Valentino