“Mother is a verb. It’s something you do. Not just who you are” – Cheryl Lacey Donovan
I believe that I am one of the luckiest people in the world because my best friend and role model happen to be the same person, my mom. We have the kind of relationship where I easily admit my deepest dreams, fears, and longings to her and she knows how I feel by the look in my eyes. Where we can sit down to talk and realize hours have gone by only after one of our stomachs begin to grumble or the other really has to pee. That kind of relationship where when I’m being my truly weird self, my mom doesn’t look at me with concern or exasperation but with a hint of amusement, and only a hint, because she’s used to it by now. The kind of relationship where I know I become a better person simply by being around her.
And I can say with all honesty that one of the most beautiful, amazing things about my bridge year is that now I have a similar relationship with my host mom Mayra. Of course, it didn’t happen over night. At first, our language barrier seemed like an insurmountable obstacle. I could barely string together a sentence in Spanish and she didn’t know a word of English but to my benefit, she was fluent in the language of kindness and patience. For the first couple of weeks, I trailed behind her like a faithful shadow and we creatively made up our own language. It was a hotchpotch of words, gestures, laughter, and smiles. Luckily though, my Spanish began to improve and so did our relationship.
The touching thing is that Mayra’s and my relationship was built off of the small things and seemingly insignificant moments. Like the way she would always greet me with a smile after I came home from mornings at the daycare. Or how I would help her make lunch and dinner, preparing the juice or handing her the salt or the mustard. Sometimes, I would play hooky from work, and go grocery shopping with her in the city, despite her good-natured head shakes and teasing. Sometimes she would stroll into my room and lay on my bed after dinner, talking about whatever came to her mind. It was the heartbreaking way she would tell me, and others, who would she eat breakfast with when I was gone. And each and every day, I felt the deep appreciation, admiration, and love for Mayra grow stronger in my heart.
I realize now, by having the time to reflect and reevaluate, how blessed I am to be loved so deeply and purely by these women. They have taught me, through their love and our relationships, immeasurable lessons about selflessness, empathy, understanding, strength, laughter, and unconditional love.
How selflessness can be shown in small ways, like feeding the family first despite being starving or giving up their slice of cake after realizing there’s 4 slices for 5 people.
How empathy and understanding can be not knowing the exact words or things to say, but the willingness to hold you anyways.
How strength of character is just as impressive as physical strength.
How in so many ways, they are the backbones of the family, making sure everyone and everything is okay.
How laughter is the most important remedy, solution, and lesson. In fact, one of my favorite things about them is that you can hear their tinkling, golden laughs through walls and down entire streets.
And how no matter what you do, how badly you fail, or how lost you feel, they will always be there to love and support you.
Through them, I have learned about what it means to be a good mom and an amazing person. And while even though they haven’t met, I know in my heart that my moms, Hannah and Mayra, would be great friends. So, with a smile on my lips, I can say that I am so blessed and thankful to have the most beautiful, intelligent, hilarious, genuine, and inspiring women as my best friends, role models, and mothers.