There are a lot of inspiring moms out there. These incredible women dedicate their lives to their kids and to their families in a way that I truly admire.
One of these inspirational ladies is my mom, Leslie Cooley.
Since day 1, my mom has been a calming and loving force in my life. There is not a single time I can remember that my mom hasn’t been there for me. No matter what day or time it is, my mom is always on standby, ready to help my brother and me whenever we call.
So in honor of this beautiful and awe-inspiring woman, I’d like to tell you 5 ways my mom inspires me.
1. She is the first to lend a hand when someone needs help.
If you need help with something, my mom is on it. One of the many things I love about my mom is her giving, helpful and kind spirit. Whether a neighbor needs a last minute babysitter or a cup of sugar, she is the first one to step forward and give back to those around her.
Ever since I was little, she’s been actively involved in everything I do. From softball and soccer teams I played on, to girl scout troops, to PTA meetings, to endless hours of shuttling my brother and me around town, she’s always doing something to help someone else.
2. She finds joy in the moment.
Whenever I’ve lost my way, my mom always reminds me to be in the moment. She repeatedly says to me, “Smile and be happy, darling. Enjoy your life.”
My mom is a champion of mindfulness – being really present and aware in the moment – and inspires me to take in the beauty around me whenever I can, no matter how overwhelming things may feel at times.
I’ve loved watching my mom become a grandma over the past 4 years, or as Coral and Christie affectionately call her, “Gigi.” She always has time to play with them, read to them, sing with them or simply lie in the grass on a blanket and look for cloud animals in the sky.
3. Her positive spirit reminds me that “this too shall pass” whenever I’m feeling down.
Whenever I have an off day, after I’ve talked the ear off my amazing husband, my mom is the first one I call. She’s my sounding board, my sanity, my coach, my confidante and at the end of the day, I still feel like she’s my “mommy.”
I know, I know, I’m almost 33, but I feel like she is still that caring and protective presence in my life that watches over me, no matter where I am.
Whenever I lose perspective on things and start complaining about a situation, she gently eases me back onto a positive track.
She refuses to let me make myself a victim of whatever is bothering me, always reminding me that “this too shall pass”, just as her mother always reminded her. She tells me to “meditate – do your yoga” whenever I’m off balance.
And guess what – her advice is always right on. I always feel better after I talk to my mom. I don’t know how she does it, but she somehow sends me strength that I didn’t know I had.
4. She is strong, adventurous and brave.
My mom grew up in South Africa.
Though she had a wonderful childhood and adolescence, the reality is that this beautiful and amazing country has faced a lot of hardship and political turmoil in decades past.
As a young girl, she witnessed first-hand what South Africa went through during the horrible years of Apartheid.
From a young age, she went to boarding school, where she formed a close knit friendship with women who she still keeps in touch with today. Though she loved her classmates and friends, she always used to tell me how she would count the days until she was able to go home for the weekend and see her parents. She savored eating my Granny’s cooking and laughing with her mom and dad.
Being raised during a tumultuous time in South Africa, many were taught to hate and segregate those of color.
But not my mom.
Her family raised her to respect all human beings, regardless of the color of their skin. Her father, Vincent Cadle, refused to follow those whose hearts were filled with hate.
My grandfather openly coached men of color on soccer teams, proudly smiling in photos with his players. Through sports, he set a shining example of how love can triumph over ignorance and hate.
My mom passed on these values of acceptance and love for all human beings to my brother and me, and now to my two nieces, Coral and Christie.
Whenever she is in South Africa, she gives back to those in need. Through continuously donating food, money and attention to those who need it most, she gives back to her home country in a way that inspires me.
She met my father, who is American, in her late 20s. She was brave enough to leave the beautiful beaches of Cape Town to follow her American sweetheart to his hometown of Buffalo, New York.
What I love about my mom is that she is always honest with me about her experiences. She told me that moving from Cape Town and leaving her family was one of the hardest things she’s ever done. But like everything my mom does, she pushes through it and comes out on top.
She has since been in the United States for over 30 years and is fortunate enough to visit South Africa a few times a year to reconnect with family and friends. I feel that her adventurous spirit is something that inspired me to take the leap, travel, take chances and see what happens.
I’ll always carry her sense of adventure with me whenever opportunities to “live a little” present themselves.
5. She shows love in so many ways, to so many people.
When people think of Leslie Cooley, Mama Cooley or “Mom” as my brother and I know her, you can’t help but think of love. She is full of love, every day. Whether she’s making us breakfast, lunch or dinner, helping us set up our new apartment, texting or emailing or instant messaging to see how my day is going, she does all of these things with great love.
You don’t have to be related to my mom to feel her love, either. Countless friends over the years say over and over how much they love her, for she makes you feel warm, at ease and taken care of whenever you’re in her company. She is a mother to many she’s met, as she gives of herself in ways that I truly admire.
She is one of the most empathetic people I have ever come across.
Years and years ago, my mom told me that whenever you hear a siren or see an ambulance on the street, you should say a little prayer. Because someone out there who is waiting for help to arrive just might need it.
To this day, I think of my mom, and say this prayer, whenever I hear a siren. This is just one of the many reasons why my mom has a heart of gold – she’s constantly sending good energy to people she’s never even met.
Love you so much, Mom!
Thanks for inspiring me to be happy, smile and love others whenever I get a chance.
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