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An unexpected gift: How I’m growing closer to my mom during the pandemic
Gisela Valencia '15, M.A. '19 (right) and her mom, Eloisa Valencia '82, MBA '88

An unexpected gift: How I’m growing closer to my mom during the pandemic

FIU News staff writer Gisela Valencia re-discovers the heart of Mother’s Day

May 8, 2020 at 10:20am

This Mother’s Day is going to be different. I say it every year.

I always want to spend more time with my mom, do more with her, do more for her on Mother’s Day. I don’t always come through, though.

As the world wrestles with the coronavirus pandemic, this year Mother’s Day really will be different. The truth is, I don’t have many store-bought gifts for my mom. I didn’t order a beautiful cake decorated with flowing ribbons of pink icing. And I can’t treat her to a nice dinner – or a shopping spree at the mall.

And yet, for the first time in my life I feel like I’m celebrating Mother’s Day in its most authentic, honest, deepest form. I’m learning to celebrate my mom – not with expensive gifts or packed to-do lists of places to go and restaurants to visit – but with my heart.

This year, I’m giving my mom the only thing that’s ever truly been mine to give: me—my time, my attention, my care.

In this crazy age where we hear about people falling ill with the coronavirus every day, we start to appreciate the things we’ve begun to take for granted. The people we may have begun to take for granted.

And, as we hunker down in our homes, we’ve started talking to our families again, connecting with each other. I’ve heard from many folks who are now having meals with their families regularly, playing board games with their parents, watching movies with their siblings, huddling around the living room trying to keep each other entertained.

I live with my parents, so, quarantine has meant a lot more time with them. And a lot more time with my mom.

After a day of remote working, I now curl up on the sofa listening to my mom about her day as she listens to me while she holds a cup of tea in her hand. We’ve had pajama parties and movie-marathons. We’ve been binge watching nature shows (it’s one of our favorite past times – a tradition since I was a little girl.) There’s nothing quite like watching a panoramic shot of dolphins dancing under water, right from your living room – in your pjs eating last night’s left-overs with your mom.

We’ve been cooking dinner together every night. We baked a cake for my dad’s birthday several days ago (OK, fine, my mom baked. I just stirred in the mixing bowl once and handed her the spatula every once in a while, but I was there).

During such a hard, scary moment in our lives, hanging out with my mom has been a blessing. In some ways, it’s like I’m learning about my mom all over again. She’s been a stay-at-home mom for years, and she’s got working at home to an art.

How does she organize her day? How does she schedule things? If you’re working at home, work is all around you. You can work constantly. You can overload yourself with laundry-folding and meal-prepping. When do you stop? How do you stop? I’m taking my mother’s advice on the matter.

One thing that has caught my attention is how much my mom enjoys hearing me work remotely.

When I interview folks over the phone or over Zoom for a story I’m writing, I usually close the door to my room. I think I’m not disturbing anyone, only to find that I’m talking loudly and my mom can hear everything – and she loves it!

She loves hearing me work. She loves hearing me talk to people, ask them questions and do my job. She says she can tell that I enjoy it. And because I enjoy it, she enjoys it.

That’s how it’s always been with my mom. She laughs when I laugh. She cries when I cry. And she loves what I love. Just because she’s my mom and I’m her kid. There’s really no other explanation. It’s not that I deserve the love or that I earn it. It just is.

I’ve been attending virtual mass this Easter season, and a few days ago I heard something that I can’t get out of my mind: We were created to love. We are made to love each other, to find ourselves by losing ourselves. It’s about giving the gift of yourself.

Isn’t that what mothers do every day – dedicate themselves to caring for us, loving us no matter what? It’s true with my mom.

“Being a mother means everything to me,” I’ve heard my mom say it before. “It’s a blessing, a gift from God.”

I think it’s about time I give back fully – give of myself – to the person who’s taught me that no matter how many times I fail or how many times I triumph, I’ll always be loved.

This Mother’s Day, I’m whipping up dinner for my mom. I’m planning to bake a cake. (Wish me luck, my baking skills are zero.) And my mom and I are probably going to spend the day watching TV and enjoying our time together. I think it’s going to be the best Mother’s Day we’ve had in a long time.

Happy Mother’s Day to my incredible mom and to all moms everywhere! You deserve the best from us every, single day.

Send a shout-out to your mom, wish her a Happy Mother’s Day and tell us how you’ll be celebrating this weekend in the comments below.