May 13, 2012

What I learned from my mother

I learned most of what I know about cooking and baking from my mother.  She taught me that measurements were crucial for baking, but not as much when I was cooking a meal.  To trust my gut when adding seasonings to a dish and how to substitute ingredients.  Mistakes aren't as easily noticed in a meal and most things can be fixed.  But baking isn't very forgiving and it needs carefulness. 

I learned how to wear make-up by watching how she applied her own.  She showed me how to wear just the right amount to highlight what was already beautiful. 

I learned that the best mornings were the ones where she could put on her flannel robe and drink coffee and watch Regis and Kathi Lee.

I learned how to sing from deep in my core.  She taught me how to project my voice.  And I always wanted to sing like her because simply, she was a power-house.   

I learned how to make holidays special and magical.  The house always lit up with wonder after she was done.

I learned that the best hot cocoa was made slowly on the stove.  It felt like a wonderful surprise to come home from school to find her making some for me.  The handful of times that she did that made me know what feeling truly special and cared for was all about.

I learned that I didn't want a marriage like hers.  I wanted more than what she had.

I learned that my body was the only thing of value to men.  She taught me this on a regular basis and it has had far-reaching impact on my story.

I learned what it felt like to be loved conditionally.  

I learned that if I ever had more than one child, I didn't want to have a favorite. 

I learned how to obsess over my body, how to diet and that my looks were the most important thing.

I learned that it's possible to be wounded by so many things in your life, that it can actually be the death of you.

I've learned that it's still hard to look for Mother's Day cards when your mom is no longer alive.  And it's better to take Todd because he can be there to hold me when I break down and cry.

I've learned that I still wake up with the same ache of both wishing she were here and being glad that she isn't.

I've learned that becoming a mom myself has taken some of the sting out of this day for me.  Not all of it, but some.  This day may always feel bittersweet and that it's okay for it to.  Death adds bitterness sometimes.

I've learned that I am so much like her.  But I'm stronger than she was and she would be so very proud of that.  I like to think she sees me from heaven and she's my biggest cheerleader.  When I imagine her face for me, it's brimming with pride and she says things like, "Go baby, go!  You can do this!  You are so brave!" 

I've learned that I'm still learning what it's like to be motherless.  What it's like to be a mom as my son grows a little more every day.  I'm learning that grief is a forever process.  I'm learning how to live with loss and longing, both because of her presence in my life and her absence from it.

Happy Mother's Day,  mom.  I miss you.


  1. One day God will mend every wound, and it is my belief after a friend worded it so perfectly once, "that in heaven we are perfected, and so much easier to love."

  2. Oh Jen, so honestly and beautifully written. You hold this space with your mother kindly. Proud of you.

  3. AnonymousMay 13, 2012

    It would have been nice to meet her and I'm glad that she taught you the things that she did. I wish things could have been better between the two of you and that she could have shared who you truely are and not what the world thinks you should be. I know it is hard not having her here to share your life day that will change for the better.. I'm glad that you are tommy's mom...... Love you!

  4. This was so beautifully written.