by Nancy Alder
Once when I was in middle or high school my family was photographed for the local newspaper. They came and took a photo of us “cooking dinner, “ or rather my mom cooking dinner and the rest of us hanging out around the chopping block and oven while she did. My mom is a pediatrician and at the time of the photograph was a rarity: a female physician and a mother. She juggled 12 hour shifts at the pediatric emergency room and managed to keep us fed, clothed and well balanced at the same time. She was on the local TV news as the child health care expert. I remember feeling so proud to tell people she was a doctor even if it meant my friends came to her with embarrassing questions about sex and some days she was at work when I got home from school.
When my first born arrived, my mom was the person who gave me the best advice. She told me to make sure that when he slept I took time for myself. She reminded me that laundry always got done, dinner always got made and a messy house with a happy mother was better than a clean home with a mother that was unfulfilled. I learned from her to write when my kids were at school, to cultivate space for myself through yoga, and to connect with other women because these were things that were important to me.
She reminded me to not always put myself last.
It is not until we become moms that we truly appreciate all we learned and still learn from our mothers. By the time we have our own children we are grown up and often do not directly need them to make us meals, or get us to events or even to guide us in life’s challenges. But there are many moments when we become parents when we are reminded of all our own mothers have shared. It is when we look in the mirror and see them in our faces, or speak words they said to us as kids that we become aware of how many kernels of wisdom we have learned from our moms. We see that without our moms we might not have become kind of mothers we are to our own children.
Our mothers teach us to be mothers.
The qualities I want to infuse in my children: strength, intelligence, self-worth, honesty, kindness, open-heartedness, and acceptance are ones I learned from my mother. She taught me to I could do anything. She reminded me to make a life for myself that not only included my husband and kids, but my own needs and desires. She taught me to speak truthfully and welcome everyone as kin. She stressed the importance of learning and of ease. She showed me I could create the life I wanted and be myself. She demonstrated love and protection, peace and acceptance, kindness and generosity.
So often when we write about motherhood we share about our relationships with our children. But it is the connections and the wisdom gifted by our own mothers that allows us to reach that place. It is by being reared that we can mother. It is by being loved and taught that we can love and teach. It is by being raised that we can raise others.
Today I honor my mother for all her gifts and for raising me to pass them on, as a mother, to my children.
About Nancy Alder
YOGI + MOTHER
Nancy Alder is a mom to elves, a yoga teacher and writer in Connecticut. She is a New York editor for Mantra Magazine and writes about the alchemy of yoga, mysticism and motherhood at her site Flying Yogini. She is co-creatrix of the eight limb // life a course in finding your yoga off the mat and everywhere. When not teaching or writing about yoga she explores the enchanted woods with her elves and counts the days until the next snowfall.