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mother's day / Motherhood

Mom Memories: The Mom Behind the Mom I Am

I was her first. She and my dad had waited nearly four years after getting married for my arrival.

Mom and Dad both had a strange sense of humor, as evidenced by the names they came up with for me. Good thing I was a girl and became Lori. If I’d been a boy, according to family lore, I would have been given my father’s initials, and thus been named, Golden Folden Holden.

Mom was hands-on. She was always playing games with us, teaching us to play piano, living at our level. Unlike me as a mom, she seemed, in those early years, to have no interests of her own other than raising her three girls (see, no boys. Proof of a merciful God?).

Consequently, I learned to read at age 3, because Mom spent hours upon hours reading to me while I potty trained. I grew up thinking books and bathrooms go together, like Dick and Jane do.

We had only one car back in those days, and my dad took it to work. So Mom was without a car from 7 a.m. -6 p.m. I can’t quite recall when she ran errands and got groceries. We rarely ate fast food and she had three homemade meals on the table each day. These days, my children and I practically live in the car and just use the house as a place to sleep and store stuff (well, the stuff that’s not stored in the car).

I remember Mom adapting to some of our health issues. I was a rather sickly child, having severe food allergies as well as asthma. Mom learned to cook without eggs and nuts, attempted to keep a dust-free house, and she shuttled me to dozens of doctor’s appointments to find answers and remedies (not sure how, without a car). When my middle sister was 11 months old, she contracted spinal meningitis. I don’t remember my Mom panicking the way I would. (By the way, mom was told by doctors that if Sheri survived, her physical and mental capabilities would likely be stunted. She is 5’9″ and pretty darn smart.)

I love my Mom’s quiet strength. I remember vividly the day I found out we were infertile. She did not probe, suggest, plan, solve, push, advise. She sat on the grass with me that summer day and listened. Allowed me to wail and rail about the unimaginable fail. Even though I was sure it was the end of my world, I sensed that she knew I would inevitably find a way out. I hope to be and do this for my children, to simply dwell in their space with them.

My Dad is the quotable one. In fact, my sisters and I made a book of Dad-isms we recollected from our childhoods. We tried once to put together a similar book for Mom, but she has always been more about feelings. She’s made us feel safe, loved, cared-for, important, interesting. She is by no means quiet (she’s actually one of the wittiest people I know) but she delivers these loving sensations with her day-in, day-out actions rather than with words.

Mom has continued to nurture her grandchildren the way she nurtured us. When Sheri had twin boys before her first son was even 18 months old, Mom and Dad made frequent trips to the other side of the state to help Sheri during those bleary years. When I experienced post-adoption depression syndrome, Mom was there daily to relieve me and reassure me. When Tami’s husband suffered from full paralysis, Mom stepped in to care for their then 2 year-old son. Nearly round-the-clock, for months. And not a complaint.

I often feel I can’t hold a candle to her. I did not sit patiently, reading Pat the Bunny countless times while my children potty trained. I do not put 3 home-cooked meals on the table each day, every day. I do not play game after game after game with my children. I have not handled our health blips with the same aplomb she did. I complain. A lot (ask my husband). I have my own interests, and I make them a priority.

I’m not actually sure what I did get from her, but I shudder to think how I would have turned out without her.

I am, perhaps, the luckiest daughter in the world.

What are some of the mothering traits you got from your mom? In what ways do you differ from your mom?


Lori Holden's book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open AdoptionLori blogs from metro-Denver at and can also be found @LavLuz on Twitter. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, written with her daughter’s birth mom, is now available through your favorite online bookseller. If you know anyone who is parenting via adoption (open, closed, foster, international) or donor conception (sperm, egg, embryo), or is a birth parent, check this book out as a thoughtful Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gift.

(This post originally appeared on

Lori Holden
Author: Lori Holden

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  1. “I’m not actually sure what I did get from her, but I shudder to think how I would have turned out without her.”

    And that, my dear, is a beautiful summary. We are not our mothers but many of us were blessed with good ones.

    • And let’s hope our children will say the same one day! (That they were blessed with good ones.)

  2. I differ from my mother in many ways as well. Maybe it’s a firstborn thing? But just like you I don’t know how I would have turned out without her. Now that I am a mom I do notice pieces of her sneaking into my mothering from time to time. Sometimes they make me cringe and other times they make me smile.

  3. What a great story!

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