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to mama with love

May 3, 2011

in life

this is a very personal post for a very good cause.

mother’s day is BS. it started off cool—and in philadelphia—until hallmark hijacked it.

what remains cool are mothers. in all their shapes and forms.

i’ve been mothered by my share of women (and men) in my lifetime, and i’m grateful to all of them. there was lorrie and sandy, second moms who rounded out my own mom’s mothering. aunt babette, who rang me weekly during my post-college freak-out to make sure i was holding steady. rachel kuhn, a woman who knew me for a mere six hours when my dad unexpectedly died. she called me daily for weeks and grew to be one of my most trusted friends. carey, who mothers me by giving me the swift kick in the ass as only a sister can.

and finally, my own mother—a woman who taught me about moxie, grace and conviction. left with two tween girls to raise and no job to speak of, she pulled it off. and then some. the woman worked her butt off. she went from homemaker to co-founder of a financial investment management firm, with twists and turns that i’m sure set her hair on end many a time. she scraped and sacrificed to give my sister and me the things she felt would make anything possible.

but it wasn’t until recently that i reckoned with one whopper of a sacrifice. when i was 16, she sent me across the country to live with my dad, a man she was uncertain of. what compelled her was fear for my well-being in a high school relationship. i’m certain she wracked both her brain and her heart to figure out which of two lousy choices was the best for me.

i hadn’t given this episode much thought in years, and when i did it was with anger. i focused on my losses. then one day about a year ago, this story came up during a random conversation with a friend. she listened. asked some questions. after sitting silently for a minute or two, she commented how scared my mom must have been and how empty her house must have felt. she asked how often i called my mom during this period.

“i have no idea. i’ve blanked it out.”

that jolted me. now i needed an answer. i called my mother that afternoon.

“mom, when i was living in CA with dad, how often did i call you?”

“not often.”

silence.

being a mother, i understood that silence. this time i saw the struggle and the sacrifice from a mother’s eyes. the loss of a daughter at age 16, sent 3,000 miles away for her sake, only to see her…and have her be angry about it…once, maybe twice a year.

mothers make sacrifices so routinely, we fail to see them. anna jarvis wanted to recognize these sacrifices when she fought to create a day for mothers. today, epic change—an organization that uses storytelling to aid grassroots changemakers—is taking up that charge through their “to mama with love” collaborative online art project.

this year, to mama with love is raising awareness and funds for four magnificent women who are scraping and sacrificing for the children they love. i’m giving them $1,000 if they raise $5,000 by wednesday at midnight. that should be simple. won’t you help make it so?

f

p.s. mom? i get it.

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