Thanks, Mom(s)!

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:

Mom & I: Two peas from the same pod.  Don't ask me what KMN just said...

Mom & I: Two peas from the same pod. Don’t ask me what KMN just said… [Photo Credit: Mindy Tan Photography]

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.

Mom Hug on Wedding Dinner Day.

Mom Hug on Wedding Dinner Day. [Photo Credit: Mindy Tan Photography]

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.

We're a mixed family now!  Moms & Kids.

New family: Moms & Kids [Photo Credit: Mindy Tan Photography]

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.

Kathy is on the left.  This was after my final race in Rochester.  And I cried like a baby on her shoulder minutes before this photo was taken.

Kathy is second from the left. This was after my final race in Rochester. And I was crying like a baby on her shoulder minutes before this photo was taken. [Photo Credit: Barb Boutillier]

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?

31 thoughts on “Thanks, Mom(s)!

  1. Del

    Loved this post Holly! I hardly every write to my Mom anymore. So, the girls and I wrote to her for Mother’s Day. It made her day.

    Reply
    1. Holly KN Post author

      Oh, Del! Thanks for stopping by. Miss you, your crazy family, and Monday night dinners like crazy!! <3

      What a beautiful thing for you and the girls to do for your Mom. I suspect those letters will be "keepers" for your Mom! =)

      Reply
    1. Holly KN Post author

      Yes, yes they are. [Tied with Dads, in my opinion. Then again, I got really lucky in the parents department!]

      Wedding dress: Off the rack at Nordstrom. Win for ease, win for convenience, win for price. WIN for covering the worst of my running tan. =)

      Reply
  2. Amy @ Writing While Running

    Awe, this is all very cute. All I did was call my mom and take care of myself (errands, running,cleaning, laundry) and my pup (walks, food, and more walks) after a few days away from it all. Time to start packing for the next trip! I’ll get to see my mom in a few days and do something nice for her then. She has always, always been the most inspiring runner in my life.

    Reply
    1. Holly KN Post author

      Don’t downgrade a phone call to an “all”, “only”, or “just”. 🙂 Reaching out, in any way, matters. And as someone who is in a long-distance relationship, AND has lived overseas, I’m sure you know how much a phone call can mean!

      And while one day to celebrate mothers is great, it’s really about how we treat them year-round. And I’m sure your Mom is excited to see you in a few days!

      Reply
      1. Amy @ Writing While Running

        Awe, thanks! I have a story you will appreciate:
        Today I sat for 2.5 hours to listen to my students give their final presentations. For the project, I assigned them to pick a place they know well and to look at it in a new light, as if they are a tourist in their own town or something (there was more to it but that was the jist of it). So today I got to hear so many different stories about their hometowns in New Jersey. I learned so much more about this state today that I had no idea about. I wish you could have been there to appreciate it all!

        Reply
        1. Holly KN Post author

          Oh! This sounds amazing. I wish I had been there, too! Did you learn about any places that you now want to check out? 🙂

          And can I ask what course/rationale prompts such an assignment?

          Reply
          1. Amy @ Writing While Running

            Cultural Geography class. They spent the semester learning about “other” people and places. I wanted to give them the chance to practice things they were learning be examining their own life/place in a different way to understand that the same “place” can be experienced in many different ways depending on who you are.

          2. Holly KN Post author

            Love it! Just one more reason that I am CERTAIN that you are an awesome educator! Hope they “got” it. And now…bring on the West Coast! 🙂

  3. Kristen L

    Loved this post!! 🙂 You have some amazing women in your life. Two things: 1) loove the faces you and your Mom are making in that first photo! and 2) The dress you are wearing in the photo of you, KMN & your moms is beautiful!!

    I called my Mom today! I’m looking forward to seeing her in a month!

    Reply
    1. Holly KN Post author

      I love that someone actually caught that moment on camera! 🙂

      And the dress is my wedding dress, off the race from Nordstrom. Now, I just need to find another event to which I can wear it… =)

      Reply
  4. Kate

    Wow – so many strong women in your life. No wonder you’re such an amazing woman yourself! You know – I love this mostly because of the glimpse into your life and family. Your pictures are gorgeous!

    Reply
    1. Holly KN Post author

      Eeep – should have credited most of them to our wedding dinner photographer. Better get on that… 🙂

      And yes – I’m a very lucky girl for having grown up, guided by amazing women (and some men, too – but we’ll save that for Father’s Day!).

      Reply
  5. Allee @ Griselda Mood

    Aw, this is such an endearing post. I can’t imagine how hard it is to be away from your mom and for her to be away from you, but I’m sure it’s gestures like this that makes you both appreciate one another even more. Seems like you have a strong group of ladies around you– you’re empowered with estrogen! Girl power!

    Reply
    1. Holly KN Post author

      It’s not my favorite thing, but thankfully technology helps a lot! Twenty years ago, we wouldn’t be Skyping and messaging and making internet phone calls like we can now – so I think we have it pretty good, for being so far away. Oh, airplanes help, too! 🙂

      Reply
    1. Holly KN Post author

      They are certainly awesome ladies. “Sweet” probably wouldn’t describe either (and they’d both be OK with that), but I definitely won the Mom and second-Mom lottery! =)

      Reply
  6. molly1619

    Great post. Those pictures….they are amazing. The one of you standing and hugging your mom from behind is the sweetest thing I have ever seen. That is love right there.

    Reply
    1. Holly KN Post author

      Thanks! We had a great photographer (who should be credited in the photos – whoops!), and she managed to capture some really hilarious, short-lived moments (like the faces!). Now, off to give her the credit she deserves!!

      Reply
  7. Cecilia @ MommiesRun

    This is such a sweet post Holly. I love that you have so many Mom role models in your life and that you recognize them. And I have to tell you that you were gorgeous on your wedding day (you are everyday but you know what I mean). That dress was beautiful. I had to work on Mother’s Day (pharmacist), and I was humbled by technicians that brought me flowers and lunch because they consider ME one of their Moms.

    Reply
    1. Holly KN Post author

      I am a lucky girl, that’s for sure!

      Every girl wants to feel beautiful on her wedding day, no? Once again, I hit the jackpot with my hairdresser and dress! These photos are from our wedding dinner in Singapore – and, hilariously, when I turned to the mirror to see my hair for the first time, the first words out of my mouth were: “Oh my gosh, I look ASIAN!!!” – because this kind of style is pretty common among Chinese brides. Things were a bit looser and more relaxed at our “real” (first) wedding in the States! 🙂

      I’m sure you are a strong, smart role model for your staff – and I’m thrilled to hear that they took good care of you on Mother’s Day!! 🙂

      Reply
  8. Nadiya @ Milk and Honey on the Run

    I love the fact that you pointed out that there’re so many different types of moms out there! I consider some of my friend’s moms to be like my own moms because they always treat me like family. Same goes with mentors except that most of mine are male 😛

    Those are lovely photo’s from your wedding 🙂

    Reply
  9. Logan @ Mountains and Miles

    What a great post!! When I told people I wanted to study abroad in South Africa, all of my friends were like “isn’t that DANGEROUS” (it wasn’t), but my parents were like “okay, let us know when a good time to visit you is” ha. I have always loved and valued their unconditional support, even if they don’t always agree with what I’m doing or choosing.

    Reply
    1. Holly KN Post author

      Hahaha! I didn’t meant to misconstrue – my parents were pretty supportive of just about everything I wanted to do – but they weren’t big travelers, so going out of the country was unknown (literally) territory for them. But we’ve done a lot of globetrotting since, so they’ve come to accept it. We might – miiiight – even be able to convince them to come back to Singapore.

      It’s awesome that your parents were so supportive of your trip, and automatically wanted to know when they could visit. Did you travel a lot growing up?

      Reply
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