#568 Your mom’s love

My mom was born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1950.

Growing up the youngest of eight kids in a small house off the downtown core, she was quiet, shy, and always the baby. Her three older brothers received the bulk of the family’s praise, attention, and money for education, while the girls were taught to sweep floors, work the stove, and scrub the work clothes clean.

My mom used to sit on her front porch and memorize all the license plates of cars that drove by. She’d guess the numbers from a distance, silently congratulating herself when she got one right. Quiet nights in the corner of the clattery kitchen, she’d study math under dim lights and curious gazes.

In 1963, she wrote the government’s standard National Exam with every other 13-year-old in the country. And she aced it.

Suddenly a fat scholarship dropped on her and she was whisked off to a preppy English boarding school in the countryside. The next few years were full of reciting The Lord’s Prayer, memorizing Shakespeare passages, and eating soft-boiled eggs in the corner of the school cafeteria.

After hitting the books hard away from friends and family, she graduated and started correspondence classes from an accounting institution in England, eventually earning her letters and moving to London and start auditing the books of big companies. It was there she met my dad while he was visiting from Canada and it was there that they got married before moving to a small, dusty suburb an hour east of Toronto.

She got a job at General Motors, saw her first dentist, ate her first hamburger, and signed up for a subscription to Reader’s Digest. When I was growing up she’d tell me her coworkers always asked what she was doing there. “Let me get this straight,” they’d begin. “You lived in Nairobi.  You lived in London. How’d you end up in this small town?”

But it was in that small town she had my sister and me and it was in that small town she showered us with love every day since we were born. Although I never knew my grandparents my mom filled the void with unending praise and patience.

She took me to the library Saturday mornings and helped me slowly finger-read Hardy Boys books. She signed my sister and I up for camps and let us quit if we came home crying. When I routinely got pegged first playing dodgeball at Boy Scouts or broke my glasses playing soccer, she was always there, ready with a hug, and an “It’s okay, Neil, it’s okay… it’s okay.”

For about six months last year I was getting three or four  hours of sleep a night balancing my day job, updating 1000 Awesome Things, and writing The Book of Awesome. On top of that, I was walking with a heavy heart and heavy mind, but more on that later. Every few weeks over those six months my mom took the commuter train to my downtown apartment with a big canvas bag and loaded up my freezer with homemade food.

And before she left she’d reach up to give me a big hug and say “Don’t forget to take a break.”

Below are three emails she sent me over the past year.

———- Forwarded message ———-
Hey Neil :

I hope you found someone to enjoy 24 with.

I hope you feel in a good place.  We are fine & you always know where & how to find us.

We will talk some time …probably sounds like towards the end of the week.  That is fine.  Keep in touch whichever way is easy for you.  Reading your blog always brings a smile to my face & I  feel like I am talking to you.

Love You.

———- Forwarded message ———-

Look forward to reading your Blog tomorrow.  I could picture me in your blog today : waving at people from my rocking chair.  Dad has got the hang of your Blog & he has joined the Fan club too.

Love You : mom

———- Forwarded message ———-

Your Website has become like my daily dose of Vitamin C.  Upon awakening, I do my Yoga practice for an hour.  After that, I am usually ready for my brekkie.  Thereafter,  I can’t wait to run upstairs with my cup of tea to read up on 1000 Awesomethings.

This week has been great each & every day.  Not to mention the fact that I feel like I had a small conversation with you.

Thank you so much for this opportunity.

Love : Your Mother

So this one goes out to the moms of the world. This one goes out to the people who raised you. I know I wouldn’t have made it without that love and support and I’m sure some of you are in the same place. So moms, thank you for teaching us to read, thanks for cheering our dreams, and thanks for helping us grow up to become a little more


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This post is Part 2 of 1 2 3 4 5

Photos from: here, here, here, here and here

93 thoughts on “#568 Your mom’s love

  1. Don’t forget the dads, too! Mine has always been there to love me, and fill the gap my mom left while she was in rehab (and in the years before she went).

    He always tells me that I’m the best thing that’s ever happened to him, and he’s helped me get through some tough times, without judging me. He plays the same role for me that your mom plays for you. Having a parent (or parents) who love you unconditionally is just, well, awesome.

  2. Your mom sounds amazing, a truly special and wonderful woman. She will be touched that you wrote about her, I’m sure.

    Moms are God’s first gift upon our entrance into the world, and everything after that pales in comparison. I’m glad you reminded us all to take a moment (or many moments, every day) to appreciate the best gift we have ever and will ever receive: a mother’s love.

    1. Everybody has a mother – but as we all know it takes a special woman to be a mom. I have a mother not a mom. Which I have longed for. When my dad meet and my step mom my prayers were answered. At 40 I finally know what a mom is.

  3. You have the BEST timing because today is my mother’s birthday! And I think that she is totally awesome just like your mom is totally awesome.

  4. WONDERFUL post. if you’re reading this, HI to Neil’s mom and dad! you guys did a great job raising him!

  5. Aww.

    Another thing, I can’t keep up with the pace of comments anymore! I remember when I could post…now and be first, now I’m much lower down the list! It’s just a testament to how much this blog has grown.

  6. Hmmm, my mother was abusive and had mental problems…I wish I could relate to this post.

    But, I can’t.

  7. I just posted this status on my facebook before coming here to read my daily dose of 1000 awesome things before bed. . . “I talked to Momma last night and told her all my troubles. There is nothing like telling your mom when people hurt your feelings. She always knows just what to say to soothe your soul. To all my friends who are moms, you have a hard job that never ends. I’m 30 and still NEED my mom. To my mom even tho you can’t read this I love you and we all can’t wait for you to come home.” My mom is currently in the hospital and has been since Nov. 14th. I know I will go to sleep tonight in peace. Here’s to all the wonderful mom’s who’s children fall asleep tonight knowing they’re loved. I love you Momma!!

  8. That is really sweet :D your mother sounds wonderful! This actually makes me want to go see my own mom lol. Thank you for sharing!

  9. Hurray to every mom and dad! They know us better than ourselves, and even if we don’t speak often to them, they’ve got that “special power” that make them understand how we feel, what we’ve got and what we’re going to do or say.

    So thanks God for our mothers (and fathers, too!), because without them we would be NOTHING!

  10. “heavy heart and heavy mind” huh… i’m waiting for tomorrow’s post already. knowing what’s awesome about that is… well, needed.

    btw, love you moms.

  11. Oh man my favorite by far and its only #568, Mom’s definitely deserve a top 10 spot if not number 1 in my book.

  12. Another awesome thing is when someone on a famous blog writes about your hometown (Nairobi, Kenya)! Awesome!
    PS. Maybe we are related :-)

  13. That was lovely. And awesome ;) And so is your mom. And so is mine!

    Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without them.

    Love to all parents around the world.

  14. For a moment I was worried this post would have a sad ending. All the same, very, very touching entry. You have a fantastic ability to write, Neil.

  15. I cannot identify myself with this post but i’m glad you have an amaizing mom :) She seems to be very sweet.
    Fortunatly i found another person in my life which made me feel special and steel teach me a lot. She’s my model altought she’s not my mom.
    :) and by the way, i loved the “you made my day”. Awsome!

  16. Your mum sounds absolutely lovely. My mum is pretty fab herself! Also, glad to note that you’re Canadian (and especially an Ontarian!)

  17. That is an AWESOME post. Definitely my favorite so far.

    It is apparent your mother really instilled a lot of those good qualities into you, and that is awesome!

  18. Dude, you made me cry at work! But in a good way. I have an awesome mom too and just spent the weekend with her. Her inspiration has helped me to be a better mom myself.

    I love the emails from your mom. My mom used to write me notes of love and encouragement and put them in my school lunches. At first, being an awkward pre-teen, I would try to hide them from my friends, but then all my friends thought they were awesome, so I began sharing them, and those notes ended up encouraging a whole bunch of nerdy kids!

    I’m smiling thinking about how much you probably blew your mom out of the water this morning after yoga! Awesome!

  19. Oh Neil, you make we weep. You are the dearest, dearest son a Mom could have, next to my Mike of course. Thanks for this heart warmer. Love Cheryl

  20. My mom is the best too. I never truly appreciated her until I turned 20 (well, I am 21 now). I used to take her for granted… then I realise how much I truly loved her.

    Cheers to this great post. I should surprise her with something nice tomorrow..

  21. By far the most AWESOME blog entry I’ve ever read. This made my call my mom right away and tell her how much I love her.

    I don’t know how you manage to keep up with all the amazing things you’ve managed to post on this website, but please continue. I’m sure that it helps a lot of people get through their day, even if they haven’t commented or sent you an email yet.

  22. I don’t know how one could make it through that post without a few tears, but the good kind of tears. The world needs more good mommas and daddys.

  23. I enjoy reading your blog each day! Today, especially!
    Our Moms are so special to us…my Mom has Alzheimer’s and I only wish that she could once again be my cheerleader!
    Your Mom’s e-mails sounded as though she was talking to you! That is so cool!
    God bless you in your work…and in your AWESOMENESS!

  24. Thank you so much for that post. I really enjoyed it. Your mom seems like a wonderful person.

    I do have to say that I am very jealous of the support you get from your mom. I wish my mom were like that.

  25. Today, I woke up in my college dorm, 4 hours from home, with a stomach virus; I threw up until I had nothing else left. When I called my mom to tell her, it took all the fight I had in me in order to convince her not to leave work that very second and come out here to take care of me.

    I love you, mom.

  26. This is actually a very emotional post and it gave me the push to pre-order your book. This blog in general has had a positive impact on my life and I visit everyday (and I’m a fan on Facebook!). You’re truly an inspiration, Neil.

    I’m looking forward to receiving it. :D

  27. There really is nothing like a mother’s love.

    I love you, Mom. I miss you. I wish you could see me graduate. You’d be so proud.

  28. “small town an hour east of Toronto” eh?? which town? I’m from the area and just think it’s neat!

  29. Wow this post was came at a funny time as I have been researching Harry Harlow and his mother to child relationship experiments. This post also makes me want to go hug my mom…

  30. yep. i cried when i read this. while at work.

    this has got to be one of your best posts (along with the beautiful tribute to your friend, Chris).

    thanks for reminding us how amazing and selfless mothers are. this post sounded just like my mother, who often tells me to “stop working so hard. it’ll affect your health”, and who to this day (i’m 31) freezes a portion of the dinners she makes during the week and brings it to me on weekends.

    moms are truly….AWESOME!

  31. I absolutely loved this post! Watching the Olympics has reminded me how much I love my country, and even more how much I love my mom and all the sacrifices she’s made to bring me here. I love you so much and I’ll make you proud, wherever I am next year!

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