In celebration of Mother’s Day, I have been thinking a lot about the legacy that a mother leaves behind. My own mother passed away nearly 16 years ago, but the lessons that I learned from her are still very much alive. I am blessed to still have my maternal grandmother to learn from, and am always aware of the many lessons she has taught me, and continues to teach me. This will be my second year celebrating Mother’s Day as a mother myself, and I have been reflecting on what type of legacy I want to leave behind for my own daughter.
I come from a lineage of very strong and devoted women. My mother and grandmother both were hardworking women who believed in sacrificing themselves in service to their families. They poured their whole heart, body, and souls into motherhood.
My grandmother was always a very strong matriarch. She has not had an easy life, but she has always stayed strong, and maintained an attitude of “I can do it myself”, never asking for help, even now that she is almost 90 years old. She is a kind, loving, and affectionate woman who has demonstrated love and devotion to me her entire life. Her strength has carried her through life and allowed her to be the glue that holds our family together.
My mother was also a very strong and loving person. She was the kindest person I have ever known, and she made sure that my sister and I grew up knowing just how much we were loved. She went out of her way to care for us and was always the epitome of grace, elegance, and compassion. She was truly the most beautiful person, both inside and out. Unfortunately, my mother did not have the best health. She had juvenile diabetes from the age of 5, and this disease continued to wreak havoc on her body as she got older. As I watched my mother get more and more sick, I was always amazed by the positive outlook that she was able to maintain throughout. She was always happy and smiling, and continued to give of herself until the very end.
I have learned how to mother from watching my mother and grandmother and I have immense gratitude for their beautiful examples of motherhood. I have adopted many of their traits that I am hoping to pass down to my own daughter. I hope that my daughter grows up watching me be a strong, loving mom. I want her to know how much I adore her and that my devotion to her runs deep.
I have also been thinking about the shadow side of motherhood. In motherhood, as in life, everything is not 100% good all the time. I am very much aware that we are always teaching our children, not only by our strengths, but by our weaknesses. Think about it… as much as we grow up learning to follow our family’s examples in some ways, in other ways we very much learn what NOT to do. These are also valuable lessons that need to be learned.
The women in my family have always sacrificed their own needs for the sake of their families. And while this can be viewed as an act of devotion, I have learned that there is a better way.
We do not have to give up on ourselves for the sake of our families.
There is a difference between sacrificing our own well being, and being of service.
I want to be of service to my daughter, and to my family. What I mean by this, is that I want to be able to help and provide for her to the best of my ability. I want to show her an example of a strong, confident woman who knows how to take care of herself, because this is what I want her to grow up learning about her own self.
I know that the only way to be of service, is by serving myself first.
And that is why I make self care a priority. Every day, I do my best to make sure that I am feeling happy and well, and that I am well taken care of in mind, body, and spirit. Only from this place of fullness, am I able to show up as the mother and woman that I desire to be in this world, not just for myself, but for my daughter, for the legacy that I want to leave behind.
When we are well cared for, everyone wins. We are best able to nurture our children by learning to nurture ourselves first. We can only teach our children to have positive relationships by having healthy relationships ourselves. We teach emotional health by doing whatever we need to do to cope with our own feelings and emotions. We teach our children to feel good by doing the things that make us feel good.
Our children are always watching. They learn from our actions more than they do from our words.
By putting our family’s needs above our own, our children are learning to put other’s needs above their own.
If instead, they grow up watching us filling ourselves up first, and serving them from a place of fullness and fulfillment, they learn to do the same.
This is the legacy I hope to leave my daughter with: Love yourself first. Take care of yourself. Make yourself happy first. This is the truest act of service. It may sound selfish, but it is truly the most selfless gift you can give to your loved ones.
What have you learned from the women in your own life? What lessons have been instilled in you by growing up witnessing their strengths and challenges? What legacy do you hope to leave behind?
Please share in the comments below. Let’s honor our family’s legacies and start to get intentional about the legacies we are creating with our own lives.
I honor you, your mother, your mother’s mother, and all of the mothers who came before them. We are all learning from the generation before us, and are each doing our very best in this crazy world of motherhood. I raise my glass to you, your strengths, and your imperfections. They are all learning opportunities, are all welcome, and are all needed.
Happy Mother’s Day to all.