Nikki Pennington is used to sharing her personal stories. She consistently inspires us with her heartfelt and uplifting posts on her blog and its adjoining Facebook page, “Grief to Hope,” which have documented her emotional journey after her mother’s death seven years ago this July. To date, her Facebook page has grown to over 11K followers.
Recently, she shared a story that perfectly exemplifies just how far a mother’s love can go — and it’s one that has struck a chord with many readers.
In her post, Nikki revealed that she has long battled anxiety, and said that when she’d find herself in the thick of it, her mother was always “her person.” She could always call her mom to vent, feel understood, and be put at ease.
It’s something so many of us can relate to, myself included. Those of us who struggle with anxiety know that it’s not something we can simply explain to everyone in the world. If we’re lucky enough to have a person we can share our true feelings with, we hold onto them and don’t let them go — and that’s exactly who Nikki’s mom was to her.
However, after Nikki got married and her anxiety ramped up, her husband asked “to give him a try,” offering himself up as another means of support.
Suddenly she had a new person to rely on — but as Nikki relayed in her post, her mom never asked questions, acted hurt, or wondered why she stopped looking to her for advice. She gracefully passed the torch, which any parent knows isn’t always so easy to do. Backing off and letting someone else step in, even when your children are grown, is sometimes so much harder than trying to fix everything yourself.
Still, after her mom passed away, Nikki felt she had lost “her person.” As she was leaning on her husband through her grief, he revealed a story that he’d kept from Nikki since their wedding day.
On the day they got married, Nikki’s mom had given her husband some special instructions in the form of a note. It was a step-by-step guide for how to help Nikki when her anxiety was coming on strong.
The note read:
“Step 1: Just listen. Step 2: Listen a little more. Step 3: Don’t try and solve the problem. Step 4: Tell her you understand. Step 5: Keep listening until she’s sorted it out on her own. She will, she always does. She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s had it figured out on her own all along.”
Naturally, her mom didn’t want to give up being her daughter’s “person” — no mother really does — but she also knew that she wouldn’t be around forever.
So Nikki’s mom did the most selfless thing a mother can do: She let her daughter go. She wanted to ensure that Nikki would always have someone who could fill her shoes. Even though no one ever truly would, Nikki will always have someone who knows just what she needs, thanks to her mom’s loving gesture.
Being a parent isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s a slow process of learning to let our kids do for themselves, or allowing others to fill our roles, even when we really don’t want to. So the message Nikki’s mom sent is a powerful one — that sometimes we have to move aside in order to do what’s best for our kids.
Nikki says it’s a lesson she now takes to heart when parenting her own kids.
“I recently wrote an article about how I’m raising my sons to love their wives more than me,” says Nikki. “That’s what my mom did for me. She wanted me to, in a sense, lean on and love my spouse more than her by showing him how to be my person. I want the same for my sons.”
Nikki has since found ways to cope with her anxiety, like writing, running, and practicing yoga, but she says her go-to is still her husband. He’s her person, in good times and in bad — and thanks to her mother’s selfless love all those years ago, he’ll always know exactly how to be that for her.