If you’ve met my mom, Patti, chances are you get the idea that my brother and I were born with a pretty sensational model for parenthood. She was not only a generous, caring mother to the two of us, but she also provided a blueprint for being a dedicated and hard worker, for giving our best effort to our careers, and for loving our family and friends with every fiber of our being. There are plenty of life lessons she taught me that I use as a mom to my own five kids, but here are the ones that are always top of mind, especially on Mother’s Day.
Work ethic matters. My mom was a labor and delivery nurse for 39 years, a job that takes grit and is chock full of gut-wrenching and heartwarming moments on a daily basis—sometimes within the same hour. My mom often worked holidays—I remember my Dad, brother, and I having Christmas dinner in her hospital cafeteria some years. She’d come home exhausted, but I never questioned how much she loved her job and how much of herself she put into it.
Tough love is legit. During my childhood, the times when I thought my mom was being too hard on me, in retrospect, were not only warranted, but I was better for it. In fact, she probably should have been harder on me. She never let up on the fact that I had to swim year-round, even though there were times I wished I was doing something else. But, looking back, it kept me in shape and taught me discipline and commitment.
Now, as a mom of five, I’m clear with my kids that if they start something, they are going to finish it. We don’t let other people down. Our values—loyalty, respect, and teamwork—are important to my husband and I, and we don’t let up on that. But I know that’s what’s going to make them strong adults, compassionate humans, and dedicated people, even if it doesn’t feel good in the moment.
I’m the mom, not the friend. My mom always put us first and loved us fiercely, but the lines between mom and friend were always very clear. My mom and I always maintained a healthy relationship because boundaries were drawn at a young age. She and my dad and I were always on the same team. Our relationship has evolved into more of a friendship in my adulthood, but that’s happened over time. Plus, I’ve learned that she’s usually right (and you’re in so much trouble if you tell her I said that).
I can do it all. My mom taught me that she can be a great mom and still have a meaningful career and personal aspirations. But making all of it happen is a battle. She worked off hours—3-11 pm—so my dad could be home when we got home. She maintained a difficult schedule so she could be a part of everything we were doing. To be honest, I didn’t realize how much she probably sacrificed until I became a mom of five and it became clear how hard it is to be present for your kids and your work.
In so many ways my mom is still taking care of me, especially as it relates to her role as grandmother to my kids. Oddly, as I grow my business, it’s all coming full circle, as my mom has been integral and irreplaceable in helping me with my kids as my work demands more of my time. And there she goes again, teaching me another lesson. This time, it’s that being a mom and making sure your kids get every chance at happiness is a job that doesn’t end, even when they’re grown.