One day while working-out at the gym, I felt some discomfort in my left arm followed by a sharp pain. The next thing I knew, I was looking up at paramedics in an ambulance and the sound of a siren! I had suffered my first heart attack. I underwent a coronary angiography with stents placed in my arteries. Life is very unpredictable, isn't it?
After returning home from the hospital, I was resolved to redesign my life. The first thought that came to mind was for me to read a small note from my late mother's diary, lovingly sent to me by my sisters. After my mother's passing, my sisters found a small diary among my mother's possessions. While browsing and flipping the pages, they came upon a page where my mother had jotted down her precious thoughts about me. She wrote how much she loved me and the joy and happiness I had brought into her life and how I had been respectful toward her always. The note ended with prayers and blessings for me now and in the afterlife.
My sisters made a photocopy and sent it to me. As I read it, I was deeply touched by the simplicity and sincerity of my mother's words. This note wasn't a reaction to having received a nice gift, a card, or phone call from me. It wasn't intended to impress anyone. These words were her sincere thoughts jotted down during her quiet moments as she mused privately over our relationship as mother and son. It was merely an evanescent acknowledgement passing through her heart, penned onto the pages of her personal diary. I folded it carefully and tucked it away in a special spot so that I could retrieve it during difficult times in my life.
Certainly, coming home from the hospital after a sudden heart attack was one of those difficult and discouraging times in my life. I got out that little folded page and read it in silence. This after all, was my mother's loving legacy to me. Sensing the power of gratitude and love she bequeathed me in her words, I too began to wonder, "What am I leaving behind for my loved ones?"
Parental love, especially a mother's love is unlike any other because no one else can take the place of the one person who spent nine months sharing her body with us, nurturing and protecting us before going through the miracle of birth. It is this unique bond that forms the basis of a mother's love for her child. A love that is unconditional and perpetual, absolute and profound. In a perfect world every human being would experience a love such as this. But this world is not perfect. And those who lack mother's presence physically, emotionally are spiritually wounded as a result.
Erich Fromm once wrote, "Mother's love is peace. It need not be acquired, it need not be deserved." The benefits of a strong attachment with a mother cannot be underestimated. To grow up secure in the knowledge that you are loved because you are you, that you are cared for because you are you, that you are valued because you are you, sets a firm foundation of self-belief and self-worth. Without that affinity, the effects can be devastating.
The private thoughts my mother jotted down in her diary expressing her love for me has become her legacy in my life. I strongly recommend that we all indulge a little time in writing down our thoughts for our loved ones. This will be a tangible affirmation and reminder of our love and affection after we are no longer here. This is the most precious gift; or as in my case the greatest source of strength knowing that I was loved unconditionally!
We had so many great entries for our Mother’s Day Essay Contest (read our May 2014 issue for more essays) that we didn’t want to limit ourselves by only publishing only the winner and honorable mentions. Here are five other entries that we felt deserved special recognition and attention. Happy Mother’s Day everyone!
What I Love Most About Being a Mom ...
By Gina Johansen of Wakefield
I always knew I wanted to be a Mom. It was such a natural feeling for me. I knew I wanted to love, nurture, teach, protect and respect my child. I just didn't know what my journey would be. After many years and many losses and many prayers – I was blessed with the gift of my son, Joshua. I knew he was growing inside me almost instantly. I just knew.
When he was born, the moment I saw his big eyes is a moment I will never ever forget: overwhelming joy. My cup runneth over! He was here! Finally here!
Naturally, my "plan" for my journey to motherhood would have been a little different than God's plan for me, but during these last five years of being Joshua's mom, I believe, of course, that God knew best.
I believe it gave me a different perspective, even a little more patience. Maybe it made me a better Mom and made me appreciate life and its challenges so much more.
I do so love all the challenges and rewards that motherhood brings. I've loved watching him grow from a happy, playful baby into a very active, outgoing, loving, smart, silly, kind and compassionate little boy. Oh, did I say active?!!
I love watching him learn and create and grow into the beautiful little boy he was created to be. He is all this and so much more. My life is so much richer, fuller and more meaningful because I have the privilege of being a Mother. I cherish every moment, every day. Being a mom has made me into the person I was meant to be. This is a love like no other. I am so very blessed!!
By Linda Orel of Sharon
Being a mom has been the most joyful experience of my life.
My 5-year-old daughter Samantha gives. She gives by allowing me to be imperfect by sharing her unconditional love, affection and admiration. She gives by challenging me to be my best, enabling me to be more patient, generous and thoughtful. She gives by blessing my life as I watch her learn and grow to become a compassionate, independent person. She gives by raising my spirits, by sharing her cheerfulness and unabashed laughter. Samantha reminds me to slow down, stay calm and to live for each day. She is really my greatest and most wonderful gift in the world.
By Iram Moazzam of Islamabad, Pakistan
“Gosh, you are so organized!” is what I was accustomed to hearing prior to becoming a mother, but motherhood made my world turn upside down. Now I find dinosaurs in my pillows and my drawer stuff in the oddest places.
To me, the best thing about being a mom is discovering your hidden abilities, things you never thought you were capable of. Not in my wildest dreams could I imagine that my kisses on the little foreheads would have immense healing power, nor did I ever think that I would be able to discuss potty colors shamelessly at the dining table.
These two little miracles I gave birth to showed me that I could survive watching the same cartoon movie twice a day the whole week through, and I could still manage with mere four hours of sleep, or even less. I found out that it’s OK to share my favorite chocolate bar and that I could be a queen of multitasking.
Motherhood is a roller coaster ride of emotions, one where you learn on the go. But it is also the best thing that ever happened to me. I can’t imagine my life without my two naughty boys who have made me more patient and let me rediscover my childhood. Lastly, the journey of motherhood revealed to me that my heart no longer beats inside my body.
By Sarah Gardner of Norwood
For me Mother's Day and motherhood are a bittersweet triumph and beautiful proof of my faith in love. My most wonderful realization of motherhood was discovering how truly easy and natural it is to love your child.
Despite a painful upbringing, I was able to bring two amazing people into the world and feel the most incredible joy in their smallest delights and developments. Wanting to keep their world safe and be there to see them become themselves in their own unique ways was (and is still) the best feeling in the world. It made me whole. Yet this was also heartbreaking because I was suddenly rawly aware of exactly how it was missing from my early life.
I could no longer make pitiful excuses. I immediately stopped sending Mother's Day cards to the alcoholic narcissist who often said "having kids was the worst thing that ever happened to me.” I became the mother I needed, both for my kids and myself. Knowing that natural “motherhood energy,” true caring and love coming from inside my heart takes good care of me now.
This may not be a typical Mother's Day essay, but it had to be written in case some young mother out there is trying to come to terms with this sort of thing. Know that being a mother is the best mother for you, too. Give yourself the same love you give others.
By Amy Ford of Quincy
“Don’t blink. It goes by so fast” has been the most consistent phrase I’ve heard from other mothers since becoming one myself six years ago.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, it seemed as if those nine months dragged, as did the first few months of Grace’s life when she had colic. I remember thinking, “Oh right, like I’m going to miss this. Not!” Or when my son, Tommy, spent his first few months in Children’s Hospital fighting for his life. I would’ve given anything to do an “I Dream of Jeannie” blink to make that time disappear.
Blink I did, however. This fall, Grace will be entering kindergarten, and I will be returning to the work force. Oh how I wish I could go back, only knowing what I know now, for perspective and appreciation’s sake.
I have come to realize that the true pleasures of motherhood are earned far more on magical ordinary days, the days with little-to-no expectations. Today, I know my kids are happiest when it’s “just another day,” when we have nothing on the agenda and the whole day waits to be filled like an empty canvas. On days where spontaneity rules, our kids realize they are truly the center of our universe.
I love that motherhood has taught me to slow down and appreciate days like this, marked not by one or two spectacular moments, but rather just by the simple joy, peace and fulfillment we get by being together as a family.
Read the winning essay and more runner-ups here.