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Mom's Eternal Gift

© 2000, by Lisa M. Roberts

I remember the day my mother gave me the gift that has lasted a lifetime. She spoke just a few words, locking her eyes -- brown, warm, tearful and earnest -- with mine, until we connected on a level that only mothers and daughters can. She gave me a gift that now, as a mother myself, I understand as the pearl in the oyster of parenthood. The gift was this:

At the peak of my teenage "identity crisis" (I have had many, so I'll identify this one as "teenage"!), when I was feeling the weight and enormity of being the youngest child of two very bright, ambitious and articulate older siblings, I blurted out in the privacy of our kitchen that I was certain I would never be all that my sister and brother were. (They were both law students at the time.)
My mother, recognizing what I was missing and seizing the moment, said, very slowly and carefully, "Lisa, I don't care if you become a doctor, a teacher, a pilot or a secretary, you will still be Lisa and that's who I love, who I will always love."
As my tearful eyes met hers, I understood. I knew what she knew, saw what she saw. "Lisa," whoever she was, whatever she did, was on the inside; her profession, whatever that may be, was what she would one day "wear" on the outside. One did not define -- or confine -- the other.
My parents were perfect examples. My mother, who was a secretary, and my father, a construction worker turned custodian, had always been my greatest source of pride growing up because of their resourcefulness, their generosity, their loyalty and their wisdom. What they did to put food on the table came secondary to the conversation that ensued as the meal began. Likewise, whatever it was that they loved in me, they loved regardless of my grades or my ambitions, and continued to regardless of the many "hats" I've worn since then.
Over the years I have sometimes lost sight of the "it's not what you are but who you are" lesson my mother continues to teach me to this day. I sometimes feel like a revolving door of "identities" despite her efforts to slow me down. Mother. Entrepreneur. Author. Consultant. Wife. Volunteer. EP. The labels are academic. Underneath, I am only one. She knows it and I know it...and surely my children see only "one" too.
There's a magnet on my refrigerator that always makes me smile. It's a character shaped like a yam, and underneath a smile and twinkling eyes are the words, "I Yam What I Yam!" In my own kitchen now, I listen to my children and sometimes I hear A Teacher, A Scientist, An Entrepreneur, A Musician in their voices. But when I look in their eyes, I see Jessica, William, Jimmy and Thomas. And hopefully, when they look back, they see "Lisa" underneath the "Mom."
A mother's love for her children should never come into question. That is the pearl we hold in our hands, our hearts, and our eyes. For this rare and priceless gift, I thank you, Mom, and I pray that I am passing it on...

What was the greatest gift YOUR mother gave you? Share the heartfelt lessons she taught you, and thank her today! Email us!

Lisa Roberts is the mother of four, owner of The Entrepreneurial Parent, LLC and the author of How to Raise A Family & A Career Under One Roof: A Parent's Guide to Home Business (Bookhaven Press, 1997). Copies of her book are available for purchase at EP and through Amazon.

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