My relationship with my mother has always been a complicated one. She is the first person I go to in times of stress, in times of joy, in times of frustration. There are times I could be with her for hours and times I couldn’t get further away. There are times I feel like I know her better than anyone and times she feels like a stranger.
Throughout the years we’ve had our ups and downs but the one thing that has remained consistent: she is my number one advocate during good times and bad.
She’s the one who never put a limit on how many books I checked out from the library, the one who allowed me to relentlessly explore the worlds of Redwall, Harry Potter and Alice, and the one who said it was okay that I was inside reading while everyone else was playing outside. It is my mother who urged me to apply for library school after graduation, when I was struggling to find my way. And once I was a working woman she listened to all my woes of the “real world,” no matter how busy she was herself.
Last summer, my mother attended ALA Annual with me in New Orleans and our relationship expanded to a different level as we discussed the balance of working and raising children. We listened to Michelle Obama talk about her relationship with her mother and how integral Marian Robinson was to Michelle’s well-being. Carla Hayden interviewed Michelle Obama and mentioned that her mother had accompanied Hayden to the conference. We had the privilege of meeting Carla Hayden and her mother that evening and it was then that the true beauty of a mother daughter relationship truly dawned on me.
In January of 2019, I became a mother. This was a joyous, but stressful time for me. I was so happy to meet my son, but had mixed feelings over how this would impact my professional life. My mother continued to support me and assisted my husband with my child while I traveled to Seattle five days post-partum so that I could serve on the 2019 Newbery Medal Committee.
In these four short months of being a working mom I have a new definition of what “it takes a village,” really means and new appreciation to the saying beyond every strong women is a group of other strong women. Together we succeed. I don’t want to be the same mother to my son as my mom was to me, but hope I can carry on her good nature, her selflessness and her never ending advocacy.
Cheers to all the mothers out there, the mother figures, the women hoping to become mothers and the people who help mothers make it happen. For we cannot navigate this world alone.