What Did Your Mother Give You?

what my mother gave me, mother's real gifts, gratitude for mothering,
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What our mothers give us is too profound to fit on any greeting card. Exasperation and gratitude often accompany the gifts that come from such an essential relationship. What did you mother give you? A love of mysteries? Insatiable curiosity? Her favorite tea pot? Dry wit?

Here’s a glimpse of what our mothers have bestowed on us. We’re eager to read your stories in the comment section.

Laura Grace Weldon: “From my earliest memory my mother always listened to me. I knew that she cared about my perspective even if she disagreed with me. When I did impersonations of my teachers she laughed. When I disputed her edicts she gave credence to my protests. When I questioned her political and religious views she remained open to my opinion. Yes she gave me her straight hair, weak knees, and fear of heights. She also gave my voice a reason to exist.”

Jenny Williams: “My mom gave me her intelligence and her parenting style. She was a single mom and my sister and I were always a part of decision-making processes. She also used gentle but effective consequences when we did anything wrong. She has always worked in the sciences (biology and then computer science), so right from birth I had an example of a woman in a science field. She also gave me her sense of responsibility, making sure the important things were taken care of.”

Natania Barron: “My mom gave me her hands and her feet (and coincidentally her ability to walk quietly), her skin tone, her love of fashion and color in spite of trends, and her love of green things. She gave me her language, her pride (of being First Nation and Québécoise), and a deep appreciation for family. She also gave me an innate desire to shop for bargains and taught me to never leave a box unturned at a yard sale… one never knows what treasures might lurk for a buck!”

Marziah Karch: “Her brains.” 

Patricia Vollmer: “Thick hair. That’s certainly what my mother gave me and I gave to my oldest. I inherited a lot of stereotypical Asian overachiever traits from her also. Most of the time that’s a good thing, but I see those traits in my oldest son and it’s heartbreaking seeing his anguish when he doesn’t do something perfectly.”

Cathe Post: “My mom gave me her can-do-attitude and stubbornness. She is a strong, fiery, red-head who has taught me I can do anything.”

Chaos Mandy: “My mom gave me my confidence and the ability to be who I want to be. I remember her telling me when I was in my early 20’s that she was so proud that I always myself and didn’t feel the need to conform.”

Kelly Knox: “My mother imparted her love of reading to me. Not only did she enjoy reading to us when my sister and I were little, I secretly borrowed her Stephen King books for some of my first forays into horror and fantasy novels. I might have had some sleepless nights the first time I read those books, but I loved them all.”

Rebecca Angel: “My mother gave me the importance of family: you give all to them, you sacrifice to be close to them, you include and love and bring joy to your family. However, she was adamant about choosing your family. She came from an alcoholic upbringing, and by early adulthood was a single mother with no support since everyone had died or run away. Family became the people who were there. Throughout my childhood people stayed in our home when they needed a family. In seventh grade we had nine Vietnamese refugees living with us as ‘cousins.’ That lesson of what family truly means is one I hope to give to my own children.”

Jen D.: “My mother gave me a strong sense of self, the ability to value my own opinion, and the ability to speak my mind. She showed me that a woman can be exactly what and who she wants, no matter what society tells us we should be. She also gave me my Native American ears and nose, and her beautiful smile.”

Cindy Ortiz: “I inherited quite a bit from my mom. The texture of her hair but only after puberty & towards the front of my head. It’s really dry & frizzy. I am forever grateful to the inventor of the flat iron. I also have a slightly darker version of her pretty honey-colored eyes, the high arch of her Barbie-esque feet, her wrists and her hands.”

Sarah Pinault: “I got a mischievous smile and the ability to disregard a recipe from my mum. She was school cook and later a chef. Because of her I can make a meal from any ingredients regardless of recipe or preconceptions. I’m not afraid to experiment and it makes for some great meal times. The more time passes the more I appreciate my mum in so many ways.”

Judy Berna: “I realized even more clearly how much my mother gave me once I lost her when I was 25 (she was 50). My mother gave me eyes that see the heart of a person first. Watching her patiently raise the five of us and countless foster children, she demonstrated so clearly that all people are worth something and worth loving. I’m so awed, as I go about my daily life, that people come from many different kinds of environments, and their behavior, good and bad, is influenced by that. Having compassion for even those who annoy or frustrate you is a trait she lived and I witnessed so often, that I try to meet her standards every day.”

Amy Kraft: “My mom gave me her work ethic. A few years ago she casually apologized to me for being a working mother while I was growing up, working during the day and going to school at night to earn her CPA. I asked her, ‘Do you like the person I turned out to be?’ And when she said yes, I replied that it’s in large part to the mother I had while growing up.”

Andrea Schwalm: “My mom’s side of the family are Irish story-tellers. We love telling stories, listening to stories, and drinking while telling and listening to stories. Also: we don’t laugh, we cackle.”

What did your mother give you?

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Laura is the author of a poetry collection titled Tending and Free Range Learning, a handbook of natural learning. She lives on a small farm notable only for its lovestruck goose.