By WholeFamily Staff
As a child, I would nestle my head in the nook of my mother's arm and inhale her love. It was the best and safest place in the world. Her smell, concentrated in her fleshy upper arms, was of warm bread, oriental spices, and, now I know, feminine musk. Up to today, and as long as I live, like Proust's Madeleine, I can close my eyes, invoke the smell, and here it is, my mother's gift - unconditional love.
- Chantal Danino Holt, Marriage Center Coordinator
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My mother's gift to me was self-confidence. She laughed at my jokes, applauded my talents, and told me that my opinions were important. I was never encouraged to blend into the background or to concede for the sake of being liked. I was a little girl, but my mother related to my thoughts and wishes seriously. It's a gift that no one else could have given me, and I'm forever grateful.
- Sara Eisen, Teen Center Director
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"Mother" has a round sound. You go into a cave to say it. You cry out from the darkness, from the cool earth, and hear an echo that refuses to fade. It stays inside of you.
But "father" is far away. It's distance. It's a goal. It's something to desire, not something to enter.
You never hear anybody cursing: "You father, you son of a father, you fat father."
Mother is a gate you go through. Father is a fence.
- Sherri Lederman Mandel, Senior Writer and Editor
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I'm pathetic. At age 29, I'm a grown man living on my own, paying my own bills, cooking my own meals, with a real job, and I still can't throw out used gift wrap, plastic bags from the supermarket, rubber bands, every twisty tie, "just in case I might need it later".
No matter how far away I get from my mother, she's still there.
- David Starck, Associate Director, Teen Center
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My mother is a giver of gifts; birthday gifts, anniversary gifts; graduation gifts. She believes in celebrating, marking occasions, this moment, this event. We must capture it, comprehend it, for one long deep breath in the rush of time. Knowing that man's life is but the dust of a flower, a passing shadow, a fleeting dream. A gift is a way of holding onto loved ones in the embrace of time, a particular opportunity to connect, to bring a far-flung family together from all parts of the world. But to express true love, a gift cannot be chosen casually. My mother would agonize for weeks over the right present to give each grandchild when she came to visit.
Even more so, she would know when her adult children were in need, and although not a rich woman herself, she would always come through. Yes, there have been many, many gifts but the greatest gift of all has been the lesson of generosity. Particularly, the generosity of parents to children, as an outpouring of love, given freely without expectation of return, in the hope that they will do the same with their children, in one eternal chain of giving and bounty.
- Rochelle Furstenberg, Senior Center Director
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When I was a kid, my mom used to tell me how to dress and fix my hair. "You can't wear those pink socks with that red dress" she would tell me when I was 8, or "Your hair looks better when it's off your forehead," she'd tell me when I was 16. (She was right on both counts.)
Now I have six kids, four of whom are girls. And guess what? They tell me how to dress and fix my hair. "You're not really going to the supermarket in that old T-shirt?" they'll ask, embarrassed, or "Really, Mom, you look best in hats."
I'm looking forward to having grandchildren someday. I think grandchildren are happy if they sit in your lap and you read to them and give them cookies and you are yourself.
Seriously, though, my mom is my ultimate role model. Growing up with her as a mom meant having before me an example of a woman who could be simultaneously loving to her husband and children, smart, a talented businesswomen, involved in charitable causes, a great cook and homemaker, kind to all people, funny, honest and ethical - all in one.
And the best part was, she always told me that I could achieve anything I wanted to. And because I knew that she's smart, I believed her.
- Toby Klein Greenwald, Co-President, WholeFamily.com