I wrote this letter to my own mom last year, after a moment while nursing when I caught a glimpse of my mother's hands–except they weren't her hands at all... they were mine. As I felt the overwhelming emotion of joy and love sweep over me at the sight of my own mother's hands, I caught a glimpse of the deep connection that mothers pass down to their daughters, and it caused me to pause and reflect on the legacy I was leaving for my own daughter. My mother and I share a deep bond and friendship, and it's from that place that I wrote these words. I do recognize that not everyone has the privilege that I did of this kind of relationship with their mother, so be gentle and kind with yourself and please only read what brings you encouragement and grace, especially on this very special and honoring day.
Today, while I was nursing Leona, I looked down at my hands and noticed the skin wasn’t as smooth as I remember it being not so long ago. I noticed new lines, new wear, and a little bit of age replacing my youth. Instead of feeling frustrated by this aging,
I felt a surge of love and appreciation. I noticed that as I looked at these new hands of mine, I was seeing yours.
Instantly, I felt connected to the mother who left a life of chaos when she found out she was pregnant with me. The mother who endured 24 hours of difficult labor to bring me into the world. The mother who nursed me for two years from her own body, and the mother who has sacrificed her own desires time and time again for 28 years for my sister and I.
As I hold my babies–nursing, rocking, playing–I see my hands that are visibly less “smooth” than they used to be, and I love them because they look like the hands I received so much love from.
In this moment, I felt so connected to you. Day by day, I understand the overwhelming current of love and connection that comes in the best and hardest moments of mothering. I am simultaneously living and learning as a mother, while also stepping into your shoes and understanding so many of your living and learning moments.
This retroactive appreciation surges when I sit and rock my little girl, thinking to all the moments you sat and rocked me. It surges when I am exasperated at the whining of my sweet toddler, suddenly connecting with the complicated emotions of desiring to meet every need of the one you love so much but also knowing that they must learn to experience distress.
As I mother my own, I connect with you, and I love you even more. I appreciate you even more. I admire you even more.
Mothering is hard work, and you did it in some pretty tough conditions. You mothered without a partner. You mothered while working difficult jobs. You mothered with limited finances. You mothered with complicated life situations. You mothered with your own difficult family history. And through it all, you mothered so well. I look back to all those years of being mothered by you, and even though I know it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, the moments that swell to the forefront are all those precious moments of connection, growth, friendship, and learning.
So today on Mother’s Day, I want to say thank you. I want you to know that every moment was worth it, and that your beautiful mothering legacy will live on in my mothering of my babies.
My hands will keep looking like your hands. My face will look like your face.
And I know that one day my Leona will look down at her hands while she nurses, rocks, or plays with her little one and she will see my hands, but she will also see your hands. Our hands will continue to spread nurturing and comfort for generations to come–and it all started with you.
I love you