* Column of the Week:
I have always loved Mother’s Day.
In the past, Mother’s Day was a time littered with papier-mache plates and Crayola Faberge creations given with poorly concealed enthusiasm 5 days in advance. It was a holiday that made perfect sense to me, because it was all about my Mommy. My mother was the person who was always there to jam bobby pins deep into the inner cortex of my frontal lobe on the way to dance, or make road trips educational with license plate math games and Cracker Barrel books on tape. She would let me stay up late during every presidential election, coloring off the Democratic and Republican states in red and blue crayon, or encouraging me to write letters to Senate members when my first-grade self was displeased with the system.
Even though I wasn’t exactly the Kim Kardashian of our 7-member family (be that I was battling crooked front teeth, a weird pension for over-blinking and a kitty cat T-shirt habit), I still felt special in my own right, despite my low-level social status and lack of Limited Too ensembles. At the time, I had no idea that it wasn’t cool to watch the Labyrinth on repeat at your birthday party because you’re in a David Bowie phase, or that putting purple mascara in your ballerina bun does not make you look punk rock (it makes you look ever so slightly homeless). Instead, I felt a complete sense of self-security, excitement and enthusiasm for the world around me, and it was because of one particular reason: my mother taught me that I had a voice.
If you asked me at the tender age of 8 what I wanted to do when I turned 18, I would have never said, “Go to college as soon as I can” or “Leave home without looking back (while also buying porn and cigarettes)”. Instead, I knew that voting was one of the greatest honors that the sacrificial and brave women of our country had given before me, and that the power of one person’s voice should never be underestimated. Then again, it was easy to underestimate my mother if you didn’t know her. As a dedicated housewife, devoted mom of five and frequent school teacher, she gracefully moved from state to state to support my Dad, while pitching in at every single after school activity around (tutu sewing skills and egg salad sandwiches always incorporated).
Unfortunately, the culture we live in today teaches us that the women who can yell the loudest, pull hair the hardest and back stab the most, are the ones with which the power should lie. Whether you’re watching the cat fights on Celebrity Apprentice or yet another installment of The Bad Girls Club (really? You cancel The Good Guys and you keep that?), pushy, bossy and forceful examples of womanhood are witnessed everywhere. If there is anything that my mom has taught me over the years, it’s that the thoughtful, deliberate and giving women are the ones to look out for. They don’t need to yell to let their opinion be known. They don’t need to stoop to the standards of high school teenyboppers, to stand up for what they believe in. And most importantly, they choose their words wisely and that is what makes what they have to say all the more wise.
But even though it might seem like my Captain of the Cheerleading Squad, former Homecoming Queen mother was completely and utterly perfect, the fact of the matter is that I didn’t care about any of those things: all I cared was that she showed up. Whenever I exited a practice, completed a test or succeeded in a challenge of life, she was always ready to carpool, congratulate and sometimes commiserate. When I failed at something (which by the way, is one of my greatest skills), I never worried about judgment or vilification. Everything in life was looked on as a learning experience, from the spilled chocolate milk in the living room to the first boyfriend who inevitably broke my heart.
Never the less, one of the hardest transitions in life has certainly been watching my mother go from Mommy… to Mi Mi. As an adult, I can no longer curl up on the couch of my parent’s house when I’m sick, and hope that mom will make me weird amounts of squash and tempeh to ease the pain. (Heck, I’m lucky to shove a few out-of-date baby Tylenol down my throat before moving on to the next thing). As a mother myself, I fight back the urge to text her whenever I have a problem, a question or saw a really interesting episode of Oprah, because I know that she is no longer just Mommy to me… but Mi Mi to eight beautiful grandchildren (and eventually counting).
Yet as Mother’s Day approaches, I can’t help but think if I add up to the example she set before me, both as a Mommy, a Mi Mi and a woman. While we wore Laura Ashley matching denim dresses as kids, my girls are almost always clad in Goober-covered Goodwill gear, with an inordinate amount of pollen and foliage in their hair. And even though I am so that mom who is always missing the important piece of paper, the form for approval or the children’s socks at the shoe-less playground, there is one thing I always know how to do: show up.
In the future if my girls can look back on their childhood, and remember that they always had someone to drive them, watch them, encourage them and cheer for them… who cares what outfits we wear? If years from now, they reflect on the books read, homework studied and blue and red states to be colored, does anyone notice if we have the right shoes? Our job in life as mothers is not to be the best, it’s not to look a certain way or do more than everyone else. It’s simply to be the support that never wavers, the shoulder that’s always there to lean on and the voice that’s forever in our heads.
So when my 5 year old daughter greeted me one morning recently holding a makeshift coffee mug and hand-scribbled card 5 days premature, I knew that even though I may not be able to count on my Mom to pick me up from practice anymore, make me squash when I’m ill or tell me what do when the going gets tough… she will never stop being my Mommy.
Why? Because she gave me the power of her voice. You don’t need to have a loud one to know how to use it, and you don’t have to be special to have something important to say. It’s true that my mom was a great many things throughout our lives, but the greatest gift she’s ever given us is the voice in our heads guiding us to always use our own.
And that, I have to say, is the best Mother’s Day gift ever.
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* Makeover Momma will be giving away THREE Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Kits throughout the month of May to celebrate the 5 year anniversary (kicking off with Mother’s Day weekend!)
* Comment To Enter: What is the biggest source of stress in your life, likely causing you wrinkles?
Just comment and keep eye on Makeover Momma Twitter and Facebook accounts (I’ll announce the winner in exactly one week!) And make sure you don’t give up, because I still have 2 more kits to give away in May. Good luck!
*Â Bailey Vincent Clark is the Editor-in-chief, author and founder of Makeover Momma. She hosts Makeover Momma TV on Tuesday (7 PM/EST & 4 PM/PT), and writes this column weekly (if the kids don’t interrupt!)
Makeover Mommaâ„¢ occasionally receives cosmetic products for review, with no obligation to positively promote or cover said brand. Receiving products has absolutely no influence over our recommendation of any particular product.