My grandma was never told “I love you” growing up.
She eloped with her childhood sweetheart when she turned 18, then struggled with infertility for years before she had a procedure done that allowed her to give birth to my uncle, then my mom. She wasn’t a perfect mom, but she began to break the chain. I never once doubted how much she loved me. She told me and she showed me. I miss her.
My other grandma was a mother before she wanted to be. She was the caretaker for her siblings, devoted to them to the point that she put her own dreams on hold. She gave birth in a twilight sleep, and wasn’t “allowed” to comfort her sons when they cried (according to her, that wasn’t how things were done). She wasn’t perfect, but she did the best she could and offered the gift of laughter and joy, especially to her grandkids.
My mom married young and mothered 3 kids under 2. She was always present. She taught me that it’s okay to cry and feel. It’s okay to be anxious, it’s even okay to be depressed. It’s okay to feel big feelings and not know what to do about them. It’s okay to not perform and fit the mold you are expected to fit. It’s okay to be a little inappropriate at times, because that’s just keeping it real.
My other mom by marriage sacrificed the freedom of her youth to give birth to her son. She blazed a trail bravely, choosing single motherhood as a teenager, despite advice of others advocating for the alternative.
I never anticipated to be ushered into motherhood and adulthood at the same time. It wasn’t how I planned it. I’ve never lived alone. I don’t remember what it’s like to not be “on call.” Showering or going to the bathroom in peace is always a luxury. But my road was paved by strong women who overcame generational bondage and trauma. They did hard things, made choices (some good, some bad), but they laid out the bricks to walk a better journey than the ones who came before them.
As mothers, we break chains. We build upon what went before us… all the good, bad, and really bad. We change patterns. But mostly, we learn as we go. We make mistakes, and we ask for forgiveness. We strive to do better.
I am who I am because of the ones who came before me. I am grateful for my time with the mothers no longer here on this earth and for every spare second I can get with the ones who are. I hope to continue to break chains and build upon their foundation of strength, love, grace, and hope.