My Mother And The Decade Of The CopacabanaAllana Harkin
When I first became a mother I thought to myself (quite often) I have no idea what I’m doing.
I have shared this sentiment frequently and through blogging have tried to encourage other moms to give themselves a break. It’s why I wanted to write about parenting. I found so much humor in the everyday and finally realized that I didn’t have to constantly be so hard on myself: You’ve never done this before! How are you supposed to know what you’re doing?
Little did I realize that as my children age I’m recognizing that I’ve been somewhat imprinted. It’s coming out in very subtle ways but it’s very much there:
In the lunch I pack for my oldest daughter.
In the way I say “I love you” a lot.
In the way I get them ready for bed, read books, or eat dinner together.
If I installed a red shag run in the basement and put on Barry Manilow’s Copacabana on repeat it might as well be 1978. And that, is such a good thing.
My mother, who moved to Canada from Ireland in her 20s leaving behind her entire family, gave me the greatest gift of all: a solid foundation and a safe place to land. While my father was the person who yelled “Go for it!” from the sidelines my mother was the person who made it clear that if I went for it I’d always have a casserole to come home to afterwards. My mother is the living incarnation of actions speak louder than words. She instilled in me a deep sense of loyalty and the concept that if you say you’re going to do something than you better well do it.
As a mother myself I want so much for my children but it’s through my own mother that I realize what they truly need is one thing: Love. My mom, not so secretly, always wished I took a more conventional approach to my life. I can’t say she was thrilled when I took off traveling solo for months on end and probably less thrilled when I said I was going to do my Masters (Yay!) in Acting (Oy). I understand where she’s coming from but I think it’s about time she took some responsibility – It’s because you gave me what you did Mom that I took risks. And when things get tough sometimes all it takes is a grilled cheese sandwich and a tomato soup to save the day (70’s style: Kraft Singles and Campbell’s Soup)
My daughter had to make a list for this Mother’s Day of five words she associated with me. Last night I pulled the list from her back pack by mistake and she was none to happy as it was intended for Mother’s day. The words were Special, Funny, Washes, Cleans, Cooks.
I looked up at my daughter with a laugh and said, “Really?” She responded that she wished there was a sixth spot as she forgot something really important, “You buy food from the grocery store that I like to eat.”
Thank you Mom. I think I might be doing something right. If she becomes a stuntwoman it’ll be partially your fault.
I love you.
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.
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