Mother’s Day Paying Back By Paying Forward

Each Mother’s Day, I thank my mom for shaping my life; yet words fall short of expressing the gratitude I feel. Though we lived 4,000 miles apart in adulthood, I felt her strength transcending time and space inspiring me to be a more patient, loving, giving mother.

At each stage of my children’s lives, I remembered all the time my mom spent with me. As I listened to our daughter lament the difficulties of living between two worlds, changing schools again and making new friends, I remembered the nights my mom sat on my bed, wiped away my tears and listened to my fears. She reassured me that as a pioneer, my path would be different than everyone else’s. When I wished my own daughter could have a « normal » childhood, my mom reminded me that our daughter would have a unique experience and the trail she blazed as a Franco-American was one I could never foresee.

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[testimonial name=”” avatar=”image” image=”” company=”” link=”” target=”_self”]But you can encourage her and comfort her and then send her on her way.[/testimonial]


As I read to our son, story after story and watched him kick and dribble a ball again and again, I thought how mundane motherhood could be, but when I was young, my mom never seemed to tire of my childhood. She read the same story dozens of times, and watched me shoot the same ball hundreds of times, yet still appeared awed. I felt like whatever I was doing was the most important thing in the whole world in her eyes.

During my own children’s terrible twos, sassy teens and every step in between my mom assured me that they were growing into happy, well-adjusted, unique human beings. Still as I stumbled through the trials of motherhood, I felt I would never measure up to raising bilingual, third culture kids. Yet mom made me feel that I was good enough because I cherished my children in the same way that she cherished me.

At times when my heart felt empty because of my role to give, give, give, my mom remained a steadfast part of my life, nurturing me long distance in cheerful phone calls, newsy letters and inspirational trans Atlantic trips and then becoming a doting, long distance grandma offering that same selfless support to her grand children.

Still I felt remorseful that I could never repay Mom for all she has given me over the years.

« It is supposed to be that way, » she explained. “No matter how much you love me, my love for you will always be greater. It has to be that way otherwise children would never leave home.”

So I raised my children the best I could, knowing that I was working my way out of job for a measure of successful parenting would be their ability to leave the nest one day.

When they settled back in the USA as young adults, no one understood my anguish better than my mom for she once let go of me when I moved to Paris to pursue my destiny. Yet no one was better able to appreciate the pride I felt, too, as I watched them – the teacher and the pediatrician – passing on their gifts to the next generation.

The cycle of life continues. The love I could never return to my mom directly has gone to my children. We remain linked eternally by the heartstrings of motherhood in the bond between mother, daughter, grandchild, the symbol of love reimbursing itself.


Posted in education, family, inspiration, relationships, social view.


  1. Your post almost overwhelmed me. I zoomed in on the Air France picture, and then the one where your gorgeous daughter embraces both of you. So powerful, the bond. And your mother’s comment about the greater love. I hope I can be so calm and strong when faced with future family struggles. What a beautiful tribute.

    • Oh Lynne you ARE as calm and strong when faced with family struggles. Look what you have already endured and you are making it work every day and then you are leading others along through your work and words.

  2. This is such a beautiful article and tribute. Thank you for putting into words what I, too, feel. Happy Mother’s Day!

  3. Pat, I love how the three generations of you, your mom, and your daughter typify a trend I’ve been noticing here — how one generation seems taller than the previous one. It’s going to be tough outsmarting our parents’ generation, though, right? I mean, we see them as so wise and ourselves as lacking. Rest assured, our kids see us as the wise ones! My late dad used to tell me, The way you repay us for all we did for you is by doing all you can for your kids. You’re doing that, my friend — Happy Mother’s Day!

    • Your dad advice sounds like my moms and aren’t we lucky to have been raised by such caring parents so that we could then have love to spare to share with our own kids.
      The generation do keep getting taller. I think that by the age of seven, both of my children were taller than their French mamie.

    • Thanks Joanie and Happy Mother’s Day to you. I know this year will be bittersweet as you think about and miss your own dear mom, so I am sending special hugs and sunshine from Switzerland.

  4. Pat — you are an amazing writer — and I love seeing the pictures of you all!!! Keep it up! Look forward to each article — trish

  5. Pat — you are an amazing writer — and I love seeing the pictures of you all!!! Keep it up! Look forward to each article — trish

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