"What I never knew about my mom..."
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Daughters Tell All1 of 18
By Brienne Walsh & Shannan Rouss
For the first 18 to 25 years of your life, your mom is usually your mom—the woman who gave birth to you, packed your lunch, licked her thumb and wiped your face. Only as an adult can you see Mom anew, as a person with a life that existed before you and continues to grow after you. Here, 17 women reveal the surprising discoveries they made about their own very impressive mothers.
She's a survivor2 of 18
"I never knew that my mother was partially blind due to a traumatic injury as a 10-year-old child. As a result, she had many trips and falls, which were attributed to her being a 'dizzy blonde.' The truth was that she had no depth perception; she couldn't tell how deep the curb was or if anything was coming at her from her left side. She never complained, however, or asked for special treatment. Today, at the age of 81, she still leads an independent, vibrant life."
She's a hero3 of 18
"I've always known my mother to be an amazing homemaker and nurse, but then I learned that she was also the first black female engineer at Fort Gordon, where she gave her services to the army. She is an eternal giver, and I am so proud of her."
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She was an activist4 of 18
"My mother was born in the Deep South in 1920, the year women won the right to vote, which may have had a bearing on her progressive politics. Even when the South was segregated, she believed in civil rights. I didn't know this until I ran into the wife of one of the first African-Americans to run for office in our city. As we parted, she said, 'Tricia, I'll never forget the cake your mother brought to our campaign headquarters all those years ago.' My mother made that cake with love, and even if she didn't know it at the time, the impact of her gift was everlasting."
She's creative5 of 18
"When we were little, it was generally acknowledged that Dad was the creative one in the family. But after my mom retired, she stocked a room with bins of scissors and glue and paints. Soon, she was producing elaborate floor cloths, dangly fabric earrings, and wire sculptures. Even though many of these pieces are hanging in galleries, she still claims that she's not the talented one in the family. Each time my sister and I go home for a visit, she's working on something new—we've loved watching her grow into a surprise artist."
She's a go-getter6 of 18
"Growing up, my mom was a retired teacher and dedicated stay-at-home mom. It wasn't until after my siblings and I graduated college that I learned she's also an incredibly creative and business-savvy woman. She launched her second career as an award-winning children's book author and taught me that no dream is too big or out of reach."
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She's my role model7 of 18
"When I found out I was pregnant last year, the first person I called was my mother. At the time, I wasn't ready to be a mom. I was scared of being responsible for someone else's life. My mom comforted me by telling me that when she was first pregnant with me, she really wrestled with motherhood. Every day, however, she loved the idea of it a little bit more. Today, the love still hasn't stopped growing, even as I've gotten older and am having children of my own."
She's a risk-taker8 of 18
"I grew up in Connecticut and always dreamed of moving to Hollywood. As a rebellious teen, I once threatened my mom with leaving. She quietly responded, 'I've lived there.' I had never known that at 18, my mom took that bus out to L.A.—alone. She lived right off Hollywood Boulevard and found herself surrounded by people inspired to change the world. (It was the '60s.) When I did move to L.A. years later, she encouraged me, and I was touched by the pride I saw in her eyes. It was the same pride I had for her the day she told me her story."
She's saucy9 of 18
"My mother always approached cooking with confidence and flair. With an assortment of spices, she could turn the humblest chicken into something remarkable. After she was widowed and married my stepdad, a man 11 years her junior, I overheard a friend ask if she was worried about his eyes wandering. My mother replied, "Why would he go out for a hamburger when he can have steak at home?" I smiled thinking that my new dad also appreciated her cooking. Only years later did I realize that my always-proper German mother could have a very saucy sense of humor."
She's got moves10 of 18
"In her mid-50s with an empty nest, my mom discovered her love for dance. Whether it's salsa or tango, you can usually find her dancing two to three nights a week. I never knew my mom as anything other than just that—an amazing mom! But now I see her as a really cool, adventurous and interesting woman. Did I mention she has never looked better?"
She's a true trendsetter11 of 18
"I'm always amazed with my mother's beauty and style in old photographs and love asking her about her outfits. Her face lights up as she tells me how much she enjoyed wearing this or that dress. Her love of fashion throughout the years not only made her shine, but it taught my sisters and I about confidence, presence and taste. It also taught us how to develop our own sense of style and how to shine on our own."
She's an inspiration12 of 18
"I basically grew up on the dance floor with my mother. I watched her teach dance, took classes with her, and endured her practicing in our living room, much to my embarrassment as a teenager. Now I can say that I'm so impressed that she not only received her masters in modern dance choreography, but she also started her own successful children's dance company right after having me, basically raising two babies at the same time."
She's a trailblazer13 of 18
"As I get older, it strikes me how long my mother waited to have kids, even though so many women of her generation were getting pregnant young. After ten years of marriage to my father, at the age of 31, she was still debating whether or not she wanted a baby—she was very focused on her career and her relationship. Later that year, I was born. I'm so grateful that she paved the way for me to lead an independent life before settling down and having children."
She's a great teacher14 of 18
"My mother is a natural-born artist. After noticing my first bold strokes with a crayon, she began teaching me about art. As I got older, she knew my artistic strengths and weaknesses—my weakness being abstract expressionism. She would find ways to engage me in this period, taking me to galleries and museums and buying books about Paul Klee and Pablo Picasso. It's not that I hated abstract art, but I felt that I lacked the intellectual and conceptual capacity to understand it. Little did I know that in my first year of art school, I would study it. Thanks to my mom, I felt prepared."
She's the life of the party15 of 18
"As a kid, seeing your mom dance, laugh wildly and be the center of attention can be embarrassing, but as an adult I love it. Most of her friends are half her age and love spending time with her. It's no wonder; she's beautiful, classy and so much fun. I hope I'm half as social as she is when I'm a mom."
She was a mentor16 of 18
"My mother and father met at a hospital ER, where she was a nurse and he an intern right after graduating from medical school. I didn't realize that her ability to guide him during this time really helped them fall in love. He was a brilliant doctor, but she simply had more practical experience at the time and very discreetly saved him from making a few mistakes. I loved discovering that mutual respect, not just attraction, was a major contributing factor in their courtship."
She's brave17 of 18
"I always knew that my mom and a couple girlfriends had fled small-town Ohio after high school and that my mother was the only one to stick it out in Los Angeles. My mom worked for Continental Airlines—not a stewardess, but in the office—and she always referred to that time in her life longingly. It was the early '60s, a swingin' time. Now that I've fled the East Coast and live in L.A., I often think: I understand my mom, and the risks she took, so much better."
She has hidden talents18 of 18
"When my two siblings and I graduated from high school, my mother took up gardening to fill her time and turned out to be really talented at it. Every summer she thoughtfully chooses and places flowers in our yard and transforms it so beautifully. All my life, I never knew that she had a green thumb—or that she was even creative!"
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