So much of what we got through in life has an associated memory attached to it. It may be a song, a place, a food, a smell, an item of clothing or an experience. The associations we attach to memories are the fabric of our lives.
Sometimes these associations activate laughter, anger, grief, or sadness, and what we choose to do after that rush of feeling is pivotal.
Every time I’ve seen or used this hair dryer recently, I’ve felt gratitude for and awe of my mother. I’ve breathed in what she mirrors for me in her selflessness.
My mom not only dried my hair as a long-blonde-haired squirmy little girl, but she has also done it for me as an adult.
Almost four weeks ago, I was very weak, in pain, and emotional after having surgery.
I had not showered since surgery, and my body ached badly. All I wanted was to feel clean and to have time in the shower to be still and process.
I was able to get myself under the water, but that small effort wore me out.
I wrapped myself up in a towel and sat on the edge of my bed, wanting to surrender to the wet hair and towel life and slowly collapse into my bed. My mom walked in and asked if she could blow dry my hair for me. She knew I just didn’t have it in me to do that simple task.
I stood up, and for a solid 15 minutes, she blew my hair dry while I was quiet, processing, thinking and just so grateful for her and so grateful I hadn’t even had to ask — she saw I needed love and help, and she offered it.
Of course, that wasn’t the only time.
After I gave birth, I was incredibly emotional. It was just me and my mom in the room, and my heart, my mind, my soul, my body felt about to explode.
I needed a good long cry in the shower.
It was my first time walking after labor. My mom helped me up and led me to the small bathroom. I was still wobbly and unsure of my new body and needed to process this life — this new life and the realities that had torn my soul apart combined with the overwhelming beauty of a love I’d never felt before.
My mom waited outside the shower curtain as I wailed and wept so deeply I felt the whole floor may hear. She would ask from time to time if I was standing up okay and to let her know whenever I was ready to get out, but once again, she waited patiently for me to be ready to enter back into the world.
Once again, she helped blow dry my hair.
Last year, I was in the Ms. Kentucky United States pageant. I returned home from a long day of first round and my mom had tears in her eyes. She had spilled something on the gown I was supposed to wear the next day.
She had hurried around finding everything and anything to remove the stain. I saw the selflessness in her eyes and reminded her it all would be okay.
I had a spray tan done for the final day the next day and forgot my hair needed to be washed. Because of the tan, I wasn’t supposed to touch anything or get any of me wet.
The next thing I knew, my mom was washing my hair in the sink. As I curled up facing the tub in the bathroom from a seat in the hotel living room, I saw my gown hanging in the shower, stain-free. And in the mirror I saw a glimpse of my mom once again loving on me by blow drying my hair so gracefully and with not a hint of resentment or frustration or exhaustion after running around all day.
I picked up my blow dryer tonight and had tears in my eyes. I have never in my life met a woman like my mother.
She has loved me when I’ve been broken, numb, rebellious, hateful, angry, dishonest, emotional, frustrated, anxious, depressed and has been there right by my side when I have finally stepped into who I am and where I feel I ignite and become my best self.
Her selflessness is something my whole life I’ve tried to figure out.
And I quit trying to figure it out when I realized it’s simply who she is. It’s how she’s wired. So, instead of trying to make sense of it, I need to try my best to be intentional and mirror it — to be thankful for those moments when a seemingly small act reminds you how massively beautiful someone is.
I love you so much, Mom, and by you loving me, you have has made me a better mom and woman.
When you have these moments, thank your people, breathe in what you’ve received from them, and love them back fiercely.
These people are part of your resilience.