Mother’s Day Love 💖

Life serves up invitations for growth in unexpected ways.  When we’re able and focused, we utilize our motivation, goal setting and agency as we identify goals and move toward completion.  What goals?  Any.  All.  When we’re in the driver’s seat, we try to scoot past diversions and focus on the goal line.  I’ve learned, as much as I love control and the ability to navigate without detours, they pop up just the same.  When I’m lucky, I can get back on track in spite of the distractions, but it might take a little patience.  Or a lot. Who am I kidding?

My mom, Sue, had audacious life goals.  She was a smart lady who became the caretaker, growing up as the eldest in a mixed-up family.  She was barely an adult herself when she became a parent at just twenty-one years old when my sister Lisa arrived. Unexpected. Unplanned.  Mom’s aspirations to attend college, study accounting…or maybe nursing…were sidelined.  Permanently.

There is one haunting photo (see below) of mom, taken on her first Mother’s Day when little Lisa was two months old and weighed about five pounds.  As a preemie, Lisa wasn’t expected to live but she did and at this two-month mark, I can see the mixed emotions of love and stress on mom’s face.

I found the photo after mom died.  It was nestled amidst a trail of secrets and shame that she hid for years.  I suspect the starting point for manipulating facts began during these early, traumatic days of motherhood.  The dark circles, her frail physique?  There were reasons.  Behaviors she clung to out of desperation.

But mom rallied and so did Lisa.  Details about Lisa’s disabilities unfolded in the months and years that followed and mom found her footing and became a champion and devoted mother to Lisa.  Mom navigated family madness and her own demons – or tried – and for a time, she was strong and in control.  She knew that harpies and gossips were spewing tawdry tales…some true, some less-than, about her life with my dad and their unplanned and fragile little newborn. But she rose. 

Details about those early days, before I was born were pieced together with the help of photographs and when they felt they could risk it, my aunts shared insights that helped me understand.  I learned that no matter what life dealt mom/Sue, for a while, she summoned tremendous strength.  She looked past the haters and the those who reveled in her shame. She exemplified rising above.

A few months ago, as Wynne learned more about my mom’s story, she did a very Wynne-like thing. 💖 She sent me a beautiful book of inspirational quotes from notable women titled, “Beautifully Said”.  As I read the book, there were many bits of wisdom that struck me as poignant, revelatory.  None more so than this, from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor:

“Don’t mistake politeness for lack of strength.”

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Justice Sotomayor’s early life included some of the same challenges my mother encountered – poverty, health issues and rampant discrimination (for reasons that couldn’t have been more different, but pain is pain, I say). 

Sotomayor’s calm exterior and focus on the ‘greater good’ mirrors what my mother tried to do in her early days of parenting.  Mom was determined and focused, intent on securing the best medical treatment for vulnerable Lisa. While she was well-mannered (mostly) it was mom’s compelling resolve and strength which opened doors.  Back then she used her tools of poise and her presence, two of her greatest assets.

Mom struggled to retain those skills as the years passed, but today – as I look at her face in the old photo, I understand – perhaps better than I ever have. I see devotion and love in her exhausted face.  Lisa was her everything.  The photo speaks to me, and I swear I can hear her whisper, “Make way, people.  I may be a new mother but I’m not weak.

Here in the U.S., we’re celebrating Mother’s Day today. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.  From me and from Lisa, too.

-Vicki 💖

P.S. Ready for a giggle? Hop over to my post for Mother’s Day on my personal blog, Victoria Ponders, for a sweet (tee hee) memory you’ll enjoy.

Top photo by Monstera on Pexels.com


22 thoughts on “Mother’s Day Love 💖

  1. Those must have been really scary days for your mum, Vicki. Such a small, frail baby to care for, look after and protect. I agree, your mum looks frail too. As you say here, she seems like an amazing lady who had to struggle against a lot of prejudice and busybodies causing emotional harm. It’s sad that some of these early experiences and family background put so much pressure on her and her family (you and Lisa).

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    1. Thank you, Brenda. I appreciate you for picking up on how frail my mom was then. I think she was terrified and unsure who was worthy of her trust. Big hugs to you for your ever thoughtful comments and for your interest in my mom’s life/story. Means the world to me! xo! 🥰

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  2. It seems like such a different world back then and the photo shows that. Your mother looks tense, not sure of herself, but determined obviously. I like the Sotomayor quote. So true, but a reality that has gotten lost in our world.

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    1. Thank you, Ally, for “seeing” mom. You’re right – tense and unsure. Those descriptors fit, I think. And goodness yes…the Sotomayor quote struck me the same way. More, please. 💓

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  3. When I look at the photo of your mom’s face, it’s like looking at a mirror image of my own when my daughter was an infant. I was riddled with self-doubt and uncertainty about the whole mothering thing, I admire the mom’s who seem born for the job, whose mothering skills are second nature. I don’t know if your mom felt the same way initially, but I admire her gumption in moving forward and doing the very best she could with what strength and courage she had at the time. “Life serves up invitations for growth in unexpected ways” as you say, and mothering is certainly one of them! Happy Mother’s Day to you dear Vicki—and to all the other mom’s (mum’s) out there too! 💕

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    1. Ah…yes. I think you’re right. Probably many moms, mums, mamas have had ‘that look’. Mothering is an adventure in ‘on the job training’, isn’t it? Love and hugs to you, Julia, for your big heart. xo! 💕

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  4. What a lovely tribute to your mother, Vicki. She does look conflict and unsure in this picture, though the care with which she’s holding little Lisa’s hand… it’s obvious she’s doing her absolute best. 💗

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  5. What a beautiful Mother’s Day, tribute, Vicki! You have such a gift for really seeing people and bringing out the best in everyone. You’ve done such a beautiful job of bringing forward your mom’s strength and resolve, poise and presence, amidst challenging circumstances!! Love you and your ability to wear your hat of daughter, mother, and writer to create this beautiful post! ❤ ❤ ❤

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  6. Your comments on the combination of politeness and strength particularly caught my attention, Vicki. I’m reminded of one of the world’s greatest symphony conductors, now deceased, Carlo Maria Giulini. Among other plaudits, he was called “the Steel Angel: by some players he encountered. The phrase captured his approach to the art of making music with other talented but also strong-willed musicians.

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    1. “Steel Angel” – what a moniker! It conveys A LOT and I like it! Thank you, Dr. Stein. What a beautiful way of describing characteristics that don’t need to be mutually exclusive – love and high standards…grace plus strength. Thank you for sharing. 🥰

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  7. Those small glimpses tell another side to a hard story and difficult memories. I have a few also and the mom I see in my own pictures is someone so unlike the mom I remember. They are just another piece to the puzzle as we find our way through such complicated family stories. So important to see and understand a fuller picture isn’t it Vicki, and to know that there really was more to the women that became our moms.

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    1. Oh my goodness, yes, yes, yes. Pieces of the puzzle — and as we put segments together, it sure does help us to see the bigger picture. I love that we share these threads, Deb. Big smiles and hugs to you…on Mother’s Day and every day. 💕

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