Let’s kick this off on a serious (but oft over-looked note): Extra love to all of you out there today who are, for whatever reason, missing your Mamas. Maybe they’re far away (physically or emotionally), or have already come and gone from this world. I can’t imagine how hard this day is for you. Ditto for those who are yearning to be Mamas, but aren’t (yet) – and anyone who has ever, ever lost a child. Please know that I’m sending love, and strength, and peace to you all. If I know your situation, I’m sending it very specifically. But there’s also plenty of unlabeled love going out indiscriminately, just waiting to be claimed. So close this tab, then breathe deeply, and take care of yourselves.
All that being said, I would be remiss if I didn’t take a few minutes to brag about my Mom:She’s an amazing lady. Her example taught me to be strong, independent, and brave. [“Brave doesn’t mean you’re not afraid. If you’re not afraid, you don’t have to be brave. Brave means you’re afraid, but you do it anyway.“] She taught me not to care what other people said, but to find my own way. She spent years reminding me that being smart was OK, that being different was awesome, and that, one day, all the pettiness of middle and high schoolers wouldn’t matter. [She was right.] She stood up for me when necessary, but coached me on how to stand up for myself the rest of the time.
When I was in college, I wanted to take a month-long winter-break trip to Eritrea (a little country next to Ethiopia that almost no one has heard of) with a small group of students and a professor. She wasn’t exactly thrilled with this idea, and we discussed it for a long time, even after I sent in my application. Ultimately, I was accepted to go, and I distinctly remember writing her a letter in an attempt to secure her blessing for the trip: “It’s your fault that I have grown up into a strong, independent, and stubborn woman. You taught me to be all of these things. So the fact that I want to go on this trip – and intend to go almost no matter what – is basically your fault. Would you rather I be less smart, strong, and independent?” She grudgingly supported my participation.She identified my now-husband as, “a really good guy”, years before we started dating. And when I told her I was in love with him – but his family lived exactly on the opposite side of the world – she didn’t even (outwardly) flinch. Instead, when he and I got engaged, she applied for a passport so she could come to our wedding celebration in Singapore. When I told her that KMN and I were planning a four month, round-the-world trip (8 years after the Africa thing), her only requests were: “Have fun, and email us sometimes.” And when we decided to move to Singapore, I know that she wasn’t overjoyed – but she never, never asked me to make a different decision, and has always been supportive of our decision.
Also? She is Run With Holly‘s #1 Cheerleader. 🙂
She was, is, and always will be my first Mom. But she’s also one of the people who taught me to “share the love”. So now, I’d like to acknowledge a few of the other awesome mothers in my life:
My mother-in-law (Mum, or Mama): She raised a smart, compassionate, and confident son, who knows how to love and respect all people – especially his wife. I don’t have any statistics to back me up here, but I think that most of the men who marry strong, independent women were also raised by strong, independent women. Thank you, Mama, for a son who respects – but isn’t intimidated by – me. Thank you for raising a boy to become a man with a strong moral compass and values, who thinks independently and can speak directly.Mama opened her arms to an ‘ang moh’ [Singlish slang for Caucasian] daughter-in-law, and supported KMN and I unconditionally, regardless of our continent of residence. From my first visit to Singapore, she shared her country with me – and answered my silly, ignorant, and occasionally rude questions about Singapore and its people. She tirelessly cares for and watches out for all of her family. Since our move to Singapore, she checks on us regularly, and always calls to make sure I’m OK whenever KMN is out of town. She is the loving and persistent glue that keeps our extended Singaporean family together.
My Science Mom: Dr. Temple took me into her lab, sight-unseen, as a sophomore at Drew University. She immediately let me start work on one of her projects, and then permitted me to hang around until literally days before I left for graduate school. She taught me molecular biology – but more importantly, she taught me how to be a scientist. Under her guidance, I learned how to keep a scientific notebook, to manage a lab, to handle data, to prepare projects for new lab help, and to present my work to other scientists. With her support, I traveled to international conferences, and I spent a summer in a lab in Vancouver, melding that lab’s work with what we were doing at Drew. Unquestionably, Dr. Temple’s support and guidance is the reason that I was accepted to every graduate program to which I applied. Dr. T, thank you for helping me become the scientist I am today – and please don’t take my hiatus from research personally. Science and I aren’t finished yet.
My Running Mom: I started running really seriously while living in Rochester NY. I learned bits and pieces about running and training from many people those first few years. But few have the level head, vast experience, gentle manner, and infinite grace of Kathy R. She taught me to be patient, to race smart, and to always be a gracious competitor. At a time when I was far away(ish, everything is relative) from my “real” Mom, she was my cheerleader, and a life consultant (you can cover a lot of ground on a long run). Also, she WILL help me figure out how to properly use salt tabs to stay electrolyte-balanced in the tropics.My Coaching Mom: Ellen is the co-owner of Fleet Feet Sports, and was the first person to gamble on me as a coach, over 6 years ago. At the time, she taught me everything I needed to know for my first few seasons as a coach. She also demonstrated for me how to motivate and inspire runners tackling new challenges. Most importantly, she opened my eyes to possibility. Ellen (along with her husband and their dedicated team of employees and supporters) have shown me that running changes lives and can transform communities. I cannot even describe how they have changed the face of Rochester and its athletic community. People are starting to run, they’re running longer, they’re forming groups to run, they’re running races – which are growing like crazy. I may be a bit biased, but this little city, plopped down in a lake-effect-snow band in upstate NY, is becoming a running haven. And Ellen (and her team) are the driving force behind the transformation.
OK. That’s more than enough mush and gush from me for now. Happy Mother’s Day to all my running, or blogging, or college-friend, or high-school friend, or even random stranger-friend Mommas out there! I hope you have (had) a lovely day.
Did you do something nice for a Mom (yours, or someone else’s) today?