My mother came from The Greatest Generation of Mothers.
Women whose job it was to give themselves away, to disappear into their children.
This photo of her both touches my heart and breaks it. She looks so exhausted and so young. She ended up having 11 children.
I am No. 5.
That tender arm draped around me melts my heart. She has a baby on her lap, but still tucked me in close to her with that arm.
I used to need proof that she loved me. Not all 11 of us. Me. Just me.
I wanted her to love me and bond in some magical way that never happened.
When you come from a big family, you're loved as a group, as the litter that you are.
Sometimes you want one-on-one mom love all to yourself.
Instead, she gave me a treasure load of siblings: 5 brothers and 5 sisters.
One year on my mom's 75th birthday, instead of feeling sad that I didn't feel that deep connection every daughter longs for with her mother, I decided to just give her love.
A friend suggested I write down everything my mom DID do for me.
Instead of focusing on what was missing, cherish what was.
It was hard at first scanning my childhood. Moments with mom were so rare, it just hurt my heart more.
Then the pen took over, or the angels around me started moving it.
I thanked her for...
Giving me 10 siblings.
Filling our Easter baskets and buckets.
Playing the tooth fairy.
Making every Christmas so magical we could hear the reindeer on the roof.
Healing our boo-boos with Bactine and a kiss.
Waking us up for school every day – sometimes five times in one day,
Making sure none of us got hit by lightning, got blinded by having bangs in our eyes or wore dirty underwear to the emergency room.
Unlocking the door at 2 a.m. and not asking any questions until morning.
Helping each of us to become our best selves.
Forgiving us when we were at our worst.
Praying for us when we didn’t even know we needed prayers.
Loving each of us equally…and never letting on that she loved me best. (I can dream, right?)
I came up with 75 things I loved about her and gave her the list as a gift.
She loved it.
That list was a gift to me, too. It changed our relationship for good.
It opened up my heart to receive what she was, and is, able to give.