Like many young girls, I experienced a phase when the fear of “becoming my mother” gripped me with terror.
At an adolescent age we don’t realize that becoming a mirror image of our mothers might be the greatest honor we could receive.
Teenage girls sometimes feel an icy resistance to their maternal figures since those women are usually responsible for setting our boundaries, holding us responsible, and instilling morals we don’t yet understand. For many of us, our mothers were authority figures who were definitely not trying to be our friends. As we age, those boundaries begin to melt away and if we are lucky we learn about our mothers as friends and also as the incredible women they’ve been outside of our parent / child relationship.
When my grandmother told me that my mom graduated from college with the highest honors possible, I was astounded – not because I was unaware of how intelligent she is (after all, she’s one of the most impressive business owners I’ve ever met) but because she never divulged this incredible point of pride to me. I was always bragging about my 4.0+ GPA so how could she not share this with me?
My grandmother revealed my mom’s humility and grace that until now, I had never glimpsed. Over the following years I went on to learn that she traveled to Washington D.C. as a very young woman to volunteer for the National Organization of Women. After growing up in a Christian household with strict rules and ladylike expectations, her gusto and strength in the face of such opposition impressed me (and I wondered where my stubborn resistance to authority came from!). While in D.C. she secretly gained access to Jerry Falwell’s convention in order to help the National Organization of Women write important pamphlets to further the cause of a woman’s right to choose. My mother has traveled the world and seen cities, historical monuments, and cultures I pray I have the opportunity to see in this lifetime.
But most of all, in the privacy of her own time, my mother was a yogi all these years and I had no idea.
Waking up most mornings before sunrise, she would sneak into the guesthouse, pop in a Bryan Kest Power Yoga VHS tape, and practice yoga. As I was close to leaving for college she would poke her head into my room and invite me to workout with her. As a stubborn teenager I of course refused thinking she had lost her mind but it never deterred her from offering.
When I made the choice to step away from a big corporate job with a high paying salary, full benefits, and the promise of a comfortable income with no end in sight to teach yoga full time in the midst of a recession, I was sure she would tell me that now I was the one who had lost my mind.
Instead, as always, she embraced my choice, exercised her yoga practice through her words and actions, and fully encouraged me to follow my dharma.
Some of us are lucky enough to learn that the biggest blessing in our lives might just be becoming our mothers and while I still have many miles to go, I am eternally grateful for her every quiet action, spoken and unspoken word, and endless patience that have helped shaped me into the teacher I am today, guiding me and my students to Flow into Grace.