If you’ve ever been to Birmingham, Alabama, you are probably familiar with The Summit. If not, let me enlighten you. It’s a large outdoor shopping area, with some of the nicest stores and restaurants in town. It’s set up on a ledge so it feels like it looks over the city. And lucky for me, I grew up living right behind it.
Side note, my mother fought tooth and nail for it NOT to be built.
That’s right. And the girl who’s mom didn’t want the new shopping mall didn’t make me very popular in Elementary school.
My mom did not want this huge “strip mall” to back up to a community she cared so deeply about. She went to zoning meetings and rallies in order to prove that this was not a good call. (To her defense, the builders did a lot of things they said they wouldn’t do. They ran over the some boundaries they originally set, and were pretty shady about a lot of things.)
And eventually, after all her work, they built it anyway.
In the weeks before it opened, there was a big sign out in front with the ‘countdown until open’ flashing. My mom wouldn’t even use the newly paved, cut through road to go home, so as not to march onto enemy soil. During the first week, I remember our neighbors coming home with a big bag from Bed Bath & Beyond and telling my mom “I don’t know how you’re going to not shop there.”
Update – Mom now shops at the Summit.
My mom also fought hard to have our community annexed into a better district. She knew the value of our homes, our schools and just our overall community would be better. And she won that one.
I think in a lot of ways, we grow up fighting the parts of our parents we don’t want. We don’t want our kids to feel like we tell lame jokes. We vow to never make them feel bad for not cleaning their rooms. We vow to be the “cool moms” in a less- sketchy, Mean Girls kind of way.
And sometimes we lose sight of all the ways they’ve shaped us into who we are.
I got some really great qualities from my mom, who coined phrases like “some days are diamonds, and some days stones.” A mom who, to this day, won’t let us eat in the den and who values painted toes over most anything. A mom who never loved to cook, but taught us that showing up to someone’s house empty handed was unacceptable. A mom who taught us to value ourselves and what we could offer first, and then to look for the same in someone else.
And if my mom taught me anything, it’s that some things are worth fighting for. Or fighting against. Some things are worth standing your ground and trying to make a change for the better.
You lose some of them.
You win some of them.
But in order to do either, you have to be brave enough to try.
I wrote an Instagram post a few years back describing my mom as someone who has given us roots and wings; someone who pushed us to try new things, but who’s always provided a safe place to call home. She’s a mom of two children who left our hometown to move away and pursue our dreams. I know she wishes we lived closer, but I also know she’s so dang proud of who we’ve become.
And there is something so special and impactful about a mom who believes in who you are.
The parts I got from my mom are woven so deeply inside me and are forever engrained in who I am. And I don’t always take the time to recognize that.
In the spirit of this weekend, we all should take some time to appreciate the ways our moms have shaped who are today and remind them of the ways they’ve spurred us on to be better people.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!