Mothers come in all shapes, sizes and disguises.
We don’t get to choose our mother and sometimes, we have to make do the best we can with what we get. However, we are even blessed that we are surrounded with more moms. I was fortunate to have a few. I had a very loving “Little Nonna” and I had a hard-working grandmother. But the Mother that had the most impact on my life was my sweet mother-in-law.
My husband and I met in grade school and began dating as teenagers. During that time, I enjoyed many Sunday meals with my future in-laws. My mother-in-law was a great, intuitive cook and during my teenage years, I did learn a few things from her. She also became my fiercest defender early on. However, it was the two years before Charlie and I married that I benefited the most. While he was in Maryland working for Westinghouse, I would spend every Wednesday with my in-laws having dinner. My father-in-law was a day laborer, so his hours depended on the weather. He could come home anywhere between 5 and 8PM. I would arrive at their home right after work and my mother-in-law who I affectionately called Momma would be cooking. So I had the advantage of cooking lessons. If cooking was close to being done, Momma and I would lean out the window of their apartment, with our arms on the sill and she would tell me stories of growing up in Sicily, her attempts to come to the United States and her early life adjusting to a new world and then marrying and raising children. As soon as we saw my father-in-law turn the corner onto 48th Street all talking, we stop staring from the window and we returned to cooking. It was rigidly performed so that after he entered the apartment, we have already cleaned up and then he’s ready to sit down for his dinner set in front of him. After this, we finished any discussion left at the windowsill while doing the dishes.
Those were beautiful times and we lost her much too soon. Our children didn’t get to know her as a grandmother and hear her stories, which is sad because I did see her caring interactions with her older grandchildren. However, I am grateful for the time I did have with her, the stories and the wisdom she shared and the patience she had with me. I had cooking lessons, I learned how to be a loving mother and nurturing grandmother and I think I learned how to be a good mother-in-law and the wife she wanted for her son.
My mother was of a different nature. But along the way, there were a few lessons learned there, too.
So, to all the mothers in my life, I thank you for lessons learned, encouragement and affection. To honor you, I’m trying my best to pass these gifts on to my children.
But as I do so, I also learned this from another mother too:
You will teach them to fly,
but they will not fly your flight.
You will teach them to dream,
but they will not dream your dream.
You will teach them to live,
but they will not live your life.
Nevertheless, in every flight,
in every life,
in every dream,
the print of the way you taught
will always remain.
(Wise words from Mother Teresa)
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you very special people!