Life Lessons From Mother/Daughter Relationships


Who are people closest to you who have made all the difference in your life?

It's mid morning. I'm studying in the university library in a special area—you know, where you had to have a code to get into the room. A woman slowly rounds the corner of the book shelf in front of me and I look up to see my mom. With a worried look she approaches me and tells me quietly we need to leave. I'm still focused on figuring out how she knew where I studied let alone how she learned the code to get into the room when she softly grabs my arm and tells me it's urgent. I stand up and follow her.

On the 30-minute ride up to Salt Lake City, she explains that the results are in from my recent physical. Results that traveled by phone from my family doctor to my neurologist to an oncologist and to my mom and are about to make their way in person to me.

"Your platelets are really low and the doctors are worried about you," my mom says.

I haven't moved past "oncologist."

"What?" I ask.

She explains something about how a low average platelet count is 150,000 and mine are at 15,000. And I start thinking...

You know those moments in your life when everything changes? One day, you're just a regular person and the next day, things are different in the hardest way?

For me, that day arrived right before my 14th birthday. I was stretching before a dance performance and the next thing I knew, I was in the hospital. A seizure. Epilepsy! Ahhhhh! Only freaks had Epilepsy (my 14-year-old mind thought). Only kids in after-school specials had Epilepsy. My life as I knew it was over. I would never be able to do all the things I had dreamed of doing—being a foreign exchange student, traveling the world, having kids. Kids? What was I thinking? I wouldn't even have another boyfriend. I didn't stop to thank my lucky stars that all I had was Epilepsy and not something worse. After all, I was a teenager and my life may as well have just ended.

I switch back to where I'm in a car, being driven to an oncologist. I remember my mom talking, but didn't hear her. Why an oncologist? Would I find out I had a life-threatening illness? What news was I about to get? Was my life about to end, but for real this time?

I put it all out of my head. The only thing that really mattered in that moment was that I was with my mom. She had encouraged me to study abroad. She made sure I traveled the world. I didn't know it at the time, but she'd be there for the births of both of my sons—sons that wouldn't end up having the birth defects I had worried they'd have because of the medicine I would have to take throughout my pregnancy. And I didn't know it at the time, but instead of the cancer the doctors thought I had, and between the car ride and when she'd take part in my wedding and later welcome her grand babies into the world, she'd nurse me through the recovery process of a severely broken jaw, brain surgery, and a horrible fall landing me right on my front teeth, breaking them nearly to the point of disrepair.

And through all of it, she'd teach me that the most important thing is to stand up and move forward when you fall... literally! That your limitations don't define you and can't stop you from reaching your dreams.

How do you put a price tag on a mother/daughter relationship or adequately show gratitude for life lessons your mom helped you learn that literally make all the difference in making you who you are?

What is the one thing you are most grateful to your mom for teaching you?

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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.


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