If you were to ask her: an ode to my mom

If you were to ask her, she’d tell you that she wasn’t a particularly brave or strong person.


If you ask about her dreams, she’d tell you about all the people who discouraged her;

Who told her:


and “You can’t do that,”

and “Why would you want to?”


She is no Frida Kahlo,

no Eleanor Roosevelt,

no Gloria Steinem;

to most she is simply a wife and a mother;

she belongs to the people to whom she is most important.


I grew up with her as my stay-at-home-mom.

My mother dedicated herself—

literally, her person in every thought and action—

to the people she cares about.


By her example, I learned to notice when others needed help.

By her example, I learned about hard work without reward or even thanks.

By her example, I learned how to create wildly, fantastic could-be’s in my head.


But for all her selfless-strength,

I watched her struggle

with fear;




She views the word from inside herself, and even though she fears it, she see that the world is good and interesting and worth the risk.


If you were to ask her, she’d tell you her daughter can do anything.

She told me:


and “You can do this.”

and “I’m proud of you.”


She said these things to me so often

that her voice is the voice I hear when I confront my own





My every late night studying,

every long day of work,

every graduation,

every award,

every stamp in my passport,

every word I write—

everything I am is her.


I enjoy the freedom I have as a woman because of the women who came before me and paved the way.

To them I am grateful beyond words.


Because of her,

I am this woman.


And though it is difficult to find the words

(clearly the concise words)

to explain how and why and in what way I love her,

I feel I must attempt to somehow thank her

for all the confidence;




with which she has raised me.


So happy Mother’s Day to the woman who gave me something just a little bit better than the world; she gave me the tools to take it for myself.

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