Moms are the hearts and souls of families. They do a million things and more. They are real superheroes.
My mom did so much for me growing up and still does. But more powerful than any one single thing she did is the internal voice she sewed deep inside of me. It continues to replay in my mind every single day.
It began as her voice but has become my own, and it is my super power. She planted confidence within me and helped me build a strong sense of self, all with her amazing words.
This is what she said:
She said this mostly when I did something kind, made good decisions, or showed independence and strength of character. She also said this when I was sweaty, dirty, messy, and working hard. She taught me that true beauty lies inside and in my positive actions, not my appearance.
I remember hearing this throughout my life. It wasn’t like she was priming me to have children, but she saw something in me then that I draw on now every single day of my adult life. I have felt run down, exhausted, worried, and unsure of what to do at times, but I have never doubted myself as a good mom.
My mom always wanted to know my feelings. Even when she didn’t know why, or couldn’t understand why, she always offered empathy. Empathy breeds empathy, and we know that it’s one of the most important skills for children to learn in order to have successful and positive relationships in life. And positive relationships build confidence.
My mom never told me what to do. When she seemed to think that I might be wandering astray or about to make a not-so-awesome choice, she showed me her trust and confidence instead of challenging or controlling me. She made my thoughts and feelings important by asking me about them.
When trying to figure out what to do, my mom also told me that she trusted me to figure it out. Decisions are so important for self-esteem, and my mom never second-guessed mine. She let me be in charge of myself. She was there to catch me when I fell and was always on my side.
My friends were always welcome at our house. Friends would come over even when I wasn’t home because they knew my mom would invite them in and offer them a snack. Through this open-door policy, she taught me not to worry about the tiny details of how clean your house may be or how fancy your meal. You just welcome people.
My mom had a rosary attached to her fingers while I was growing up and still does. She didn’t offer a quick sentiment. She really prayed for me. She prayed for my boyfriends, she prayed for my friends, she prayed for my friend’s friends, their parents, and their extended families. She taught me to pray for my children, which has given me great peace. It has given my children an increased sense of peace and security as well.
Of course, all moms say this. My mom said it all the time. If there were better things she could have said to let me know how she felt about me, she would have. But my mom said “I love you” like it was the absolute tops, and even still, it seemed just a little too inadequate for all her actual love for me.
When I was a kid, there was always fun, play, and laughter. My grown-up heart seeks those things out when life gets big and heavy. My mom still says this to me when I drop my kids off at her house for a sleepover. She shoves me out the door and tells me not to worry about a thing.
Then she wants to know all the fun things I did while she took care of my kids. She gets joy out of my joy. In this simple way, she tells me that I am not a burden; I am a joy. My kids are a joy. It makes my heart swell, like I really am doing a good job.
What a gift to grow up hearing that someone was proud of me, no matter what. I grew up believing that I could be proud of myself. And I am.