#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. Neil,

    I’ve never commented before, and I’ve been a longtime reader of your blog. This post, though, is simply amazing. Your mom is an incredible woman, and you are insanely blessed to have her be such an integral part of your life. My mom and I are close as well, and now that I’m about to get my first apartment this summer, she’s still worrying about my laundry getting done when I’m home over spring and winter breaks.

    This semester I began interning at the Guardian Ad Litem office in my town. Essentially, the GAL program sets up volunteers with children who have been removed from their families- in cases involving abuse, neglect, drug use and sometimes an inability of the parents to provide proper medical care. Each and every day I am reminded of the importance of a good, stable and supportive adult in a child’s life. Even if they may not have a biological mom to look up to, you could be that person for them.

    You emphasize the importance of not only the “little things” but the “big things” too, and that’s what I love about 1000 Awesome Things :)

    You and your mom both rock!

  2. This is why when for my media studies seminar we had to talk about our favorite website, I brought a slip of paper with “1000 Awesome Things” written on it. Thank you so so much for sharing this!

  3. I bet your Mom is at the top of the World today. You are such an amazing writer. She must be so proud of you. I am pre-ordering a copy of the Book for all the ladies ( Moms ) in my bridge club.

  4. It made me cry a lot … my mom died just two years ago, and I still miss her a lot. Her last years were awful, she became a ghost of the person she used to be: brave, loving, witty and always caring for us.

    Wonderful, awesome post, Neil.

  5. Neil,
    I read your awesomeness everyday, and am touched by many of your posts. But this one about moms brought tears to my eyes. Last week I went home to see my mom through a minor medical procedure. Everything’s fine, thank God; but those moments leading up to the verdict really do make you pause, cause you to hold your breath for a few minutes, and make you pray that everything will be ok.

    Thanks for this and all your posts. Can’t wait for the book to be published!!! I hope there’s a Sec A book signing party in the works? :)

    Much aloha,

  6. Great post, had to send it to my parents. Been having a pretty darn stressful few months and it nearly broke me yesterday. Phoned my mom for some support and without hesitation she offered to drive on over, an hour in traffic. Both her and my dad showed up to help my wife calm me down. Gotta love moms and dads.

  7. I had to write about this one because it was just so good. I’m sending it to mom, she will love it. she writes her emails just like your mom. The universal mom style, straight to the point. love it.

  8. Also going to send this one on to my mum.. although I’m only reading it today, you posted it on my birthday, so it strikes a chord with me on a lot of levels! Brought a tear to my eye and I’m sure it will for my mum too. Thank you :-)

  9. Over the years my mom has become my best friend. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t talk to her at least once over the phone. We don’t get to spend much time together since I got married because I live so far away now, but she is always there for me.

  10. My mother has not been a part of my life for many, many years. I was raised by my grandparents and other people’s parents and I never had close, loving feelings about my parents. I married 10 years ago and I am so determined to give my kids the love I never had. I support them in every thing they want to do and tell them I love them. It’s my hope that when they are aal grown they will say I was a good parent and my love was awesome.

  11. Mom’s been gone almost 3 years now. As the song goes “you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone”. I did love and appreciate all the loving things she did for me, but not until I became a mom did I understand the loving need to know your kids are OK. That you are not trying to interfere in their lives but from time to time you need to ask those “hard” questions or make a comment that makes them think and consider the future. Just because you love them so much it hurts but you wouldn’t give this love up for anything. Thanks Mom for your undying love and support and the wonderful legacy of how to be a loving mom.With tears of love I remember.

  12. I’m from Kenya! :D
    This is the most amazing website ever! I would get the book but they don’t have it here yet. I’m most definitely going to get it when I go to London next :)
    Thank you!

  13. I am lucky to have know this site. Can’t do anything else but just read the 1000 awesome things.

    Thanks Neil

  14. This is a great post, Neil. I can honestly say that I would not be here without my mom. Moms are the best!

    (Random hi to Neil’s Mom! :D )

  15. *Sniff sniff* What? No. I wasn’t sniffing. Awesome ninjas aren’t emotional.

    Aaanyways, yay for all the moms in the world! No matter how angry I get at my mom, I always go back to her and say sorry.

    Which reminds me…naw, just joking.

  16. Mom’s like yours, just got the nature to nurture naturally and are awesome role models for those who strive to be, best they can be, to and for their own. Thank you.

  17. This brought a smile to my face :) it explains exactly how I feel about my mum :’) thank you for your blog!! I love you mum xxxx

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