My mom recently turned 88. And although she’s aged, one thing is still exactly the same. Her smile.
My oldest memories of my mom, Rochelle Reibman Hirschhorn, are of her smile. That smile was often on her face and many times it was accompanied by her beautiful and infectious laugh.
As a little girl, and even a young teen, I had no idea what my mom “really” did and what a remarkable scientific mind she had. My mom worked full time, but she still made time to create Halloween costumes and take me to art museums, thus passing along her love of art to me. I never caught on to her talent at sewing!
It wasn’t until I was older that I truly realized who my mom was outside of being my mom. And as I sit here reflecting on who she is in my life, three gifts keep coming into my mind.
She Showed Me That Curiosity and Creativity are Important
My mom is a scientist. She was always pushing the envelope, questioning dogma and looking at problems from a different viewpoint. She got a lot of push back from colleagues, but there are multiple diseases that have cures or therapy because she looked at problems with the lense of curiosity and solved problems in a creative “out of the box” manner.
I love this about my mom and admire it. In college I saw that, like her, my brain did not respond to linear thinking. Instead of seeing myself as different, I saw myself as having unique ideas and solutions to problems. She helped me see my creativity as an asset. And that has allowed me to find work I love and support my own children in their journey to find their own ideas.
And my lifelong passion for learning was and is fueled by the role model my mom provided around curiosity.
My Mom Taught Me to Trust Myself
Even at an early age she encouraged me to think for myself.
We spent the summer in a tiny town near the beach in Massachusetts. My mom used that time to write papers on the research she had done during the “school” year.
So each morning, starting around when we were 9 and 10, my sister and I would wrap our towels around our neck, strap a lunch box to the back of our bikes and head off for a day of adventure. My mom handed us a dollar, which covered both a soda and an ice cream bar at the beach, and said “Have a great day, see you at dinner.”
She was not neglecting us. She had modeled safe behaviors and then trusted us to think for ourselves. We had to decide what to do, who to hang out with, when to reapply sunscreen and to watch the clock to be back in time to set the table and help with dinner prep.
We were welcome to come home early, but we were expected to entertain ourselves, reading or playing dolls or playing board games or hanging out and talking with the many friends we brought home. No matter what, we and our friends were welcomed with my mom’s amazing smile.
Later when I was older and I’d ask for advice, her first question was “what do you think?” Then she would deeply listen and reflect back to me what I said. Sometimes I just wanted her to solve my problems, but she helped me, step by small step, to figure out how to do that on my own.
What an amazing gift.
She Makes me Feel that I am Deeply Loved Just as I Am
Yes, my mom worked long hours and traveled for work. But I never, for one moment, doubted that she loved me. That love was not vague or based on what I did for a job or if I was a good student. She loved and loves me for how I show up in the world and who I am at my core. That means everything to me.
I’ve taken a very different path from my parents and siblings (all of them are research scientists). But that means nothing to her. She wants me to live my authentic life, just like she lived hers. And I feel that she loves me unconditionally.
So Mommy, if you’re reading this, I love you back. Love, BooBoo.
Mother’s Day is right around the corner. What would you like your mom, your grandma, a friend who’s a mom or another mother figure in your life to know?
Why not write a letter to your mother or a mother figure in your life? Write one to one of your mom friends.
Or write one to yourself. What do you love about parenting right now? What do you love about your kids? What makes it all worth it?
I’ll show you step-by-step how to write Legacy Letters so that you can create a deeper, more meaningful, and lasting bond with any of your loved ones at any time.