How My Mom Leaned Into Motherhood When I Thought She Leaned BackJeannette Kaplun
My mom was 22 when I was born. She gave birth in a strange country, miles away from what had been her home in Chile, and gave me the gift of opportunities. She allowed me to call her by her first name, Doris, and as a preschooler, she let me pick out my clothes. She gave me choices and allowed me to feel empowered, even when I was 4.
Believe it or not, that was pretty unconventional forty years ago.
She forged her own path as a mom and she always made sure we knew how much she loved my brother and I. However, after I graduated high school, she rebelled against the responsibilities of motherhood. It was only for a few months, but for me those weeks seemed like years and at 17, the change made me feel lost. We reached a breaking point and I thought I would have to accept that we would never be close.
I was wrong. That moment opened up the doors to heal and rebuild. She owned up to what hurt me, we talked about how we felt, cleared the air and moved on. Truly moved on. To the point that she is my best friend, even if I sometimes want her to dress differently or she wishes my life was less hectic. Right at this moment, as I travel for business, she is helping me with my children in Miami, even though she could be spending time with her friends, my dad and going on with her life in Chile. She is my greatest cheerleader and I simply couldn’t wish for a better mother. Now she is also the most devoted grandmother my kids could have dreamed of.
As I look back to that lunch we had in 1990, I realize it taught me so many lessons that I needed to learn. It taught me the power of an apology and forgiveness. The power of owning up to your mistakes and moving forward instead of staying stuck in the past. Most importantly, I learned that despite truly loving somebody, we can all make choices we regret, but it is up to us to rebuild. My mom leaned into what motherhood is really about: making the most out of challenging times, learning as you go and realizing that children also teach you lessons every single day.
Mami, thank you for being who you are. On this Mother’s Day there are simply no words that can describe how fortunate I feel that you are my mom. Thanks for leaning in, when I thought you were leaning back. ¡Te quiero tanto! (I love you so much!)
Te admiro y te adoro,
We’re celebrating Mother’s Day by celebrating leaning in to motherhood, and by recognizing the extraordinary women that are our own mothers. We hope that it will inspire you to thank your own mother, or the mother who most inspires you. Find more letters and stories about leaning into motherhood here. And, of course, find your own Lean In inspiration at LeanIn.org.