In Honor of Mother’s Day

May 7, 2024

When Sally was six, we decided it was time to introduce the idea of camping, a beloved pastime for Ryan’s family. “Dad would love to take you camping,” I offered. “Maybe we could set up the tent in the backyard and ‘camp’ to practice. “

“Well,” Sally pointed out, “we’ve already been camping with Grandma Barbara.”

Now, my mom did not camp.
The Elys thought the Best Western was roughing it.

As I wracked my brain to figure out when she could have gone camping, Sally explained.

“We were around the fire pit with our cousins, at the beach, and we made smores! It was at Grandma’s hotel…”

Suddenly, the light went on, and I burst out laughing. She was talking about the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay, California! My parents had stayed there when my dad and I attended a business conference.

My family on my mom’s birthday at the Ritz before we went to the fire pits for smores.

I was proud of Sally’s commitment to the cause, but I knew Ryan was going to be appalled —his family grew up backpacking in Yosemite for vacations. When they had the pop-up tent trailer, that was fancy. Stay tuned: next month you’ll get a peek into Ranger Ryan.

Over the years, these conferences have become pieces in my own life mosaic, often marking memories or milestones I hadn’t realized were significant at the time.

With the conference in New Orleans this year, it made me see how much life has changed. While the girls were younger, I would bring them to various conferences. My mom would go to stay with the girls. She would get them room service and take them to the pool. Now, the girls are in junior high and can’t just come with me on a trip when they have school.

The last time I was in New Orleans was with my mom, dad, and my girls.

The girls when we were last in New Orleans with my parents.

Ryan was on a deployment and I had friends in New Orleans for a quick trip. So my parents drove down to New Orleans with us. We had such a great time. Being back in New Orleans for the first time without her was bittersweet. Walking around the city with Ryan, there were sweet little moments where I remembered being with my mom. I miss her terribly. 

As I’ve been trying to do in many aspects of our lives, I am soaking up what remains while simultaneously building new traditions.  

I miss my mom, and I miss having the girls at the conference, but we’ve created a new tradition for these conferences. Now, Ryan comes with me and we make it an annual getaway for the two of us. This started in 2022 when let’s just say… the AV and sound wasn’t very smooth, to say the least. I decided Ryan was coming with me the next year to help us financial advisors out, because we can’t set up a slide deck to save our lives. Microphones? Forget it.  

Bringing Ryan along has been so much fun.

Ryan and I at the IAN conference two weeks ago in New Orleans.

Everyone loves him, he chats with everyone, and loves to jump in and help, especially with technology. With Ryan, I’m part of a team. He gives me so much support and confidence.  

He also encourages me to explore the “what if” opportunities in life. Leading up to the conference, I almost canceled the whole trip a few times. I was so nervous about leaving home. Sally was on an East Coast trip with her school, and Katherine was going to be home with Ryan’s parents holding down the farm.  

I have a hard time leaving my girls and our house, and having all of us in three different time zones was enough to put my anxiety over the edge. But Ryan wouldn’t let me cancel, and for that I am grateful. He knew it was important for Mosaic that I spend time with people in person. He knows that when I get anxious, I have a need for control and safety and he pushes me to trust and move forward.  

He was right, of course.  

Despite it being different from past conference traditions, it was an incredible opportunity to connect with other advisors and staff at IAN. We were able to spend time together in person, learning, laughing and really getting to know each other’s stories. I love learning how people got to where they are. It can be hard to work independently from home, so being intentional about community and comradery is important. 

The bonds of relationships, whether family, friends, volunteer, or work, are some of the most powerful in the human experience. They define, outline, color in, build, and connect our lives. When these relationships change or operate differently, it can be so hard to know what to do. 

I often get more anxious or sad around this time of year, but it takes a bit to realize the anticipation of Mother’s Day is throwing me off. Fortunately, Ryan knows I’m always missing my mom and sometimes I don’t even realize it. 

Mother’s Day can be a bit hard in some form for everyone. Whether we’ve lost a mother, have a complicated relationship with a mother or child, or many other just hard personal things, it can throw us a bit out of sorts.

My mom would have loved these red roses that just exploded on our porch. They were her favorite.

Mother’s Day for me is bittersweet; I miss my mom and I love being a mom to my two girls. So on Mother’s Day and the time leading up, I hold both things: joy and sadness.  

I think that’s what life requires of us. 
We have to find a way to hold things with an “and,” not an “or.” 

It’s not one or the other—it’s both. Joy and sadness. Love and loss. Tradition and change. 

We can be contradictory things at the same time. I’m in my mid-forties now, and life keeps getting more complicated. The responsibilities can feel heavy—kids, houses, aging parents, careers, siblings — but there are also incredible joys and moments of sheer gratitude. So that’s where I have been holding on to “and” and toss out “or.”  

Yes, life has its challenges, and it has its joys.  

If this is a bittersweet season for you as well, I encourage you to take a moment to see where you can add “and” to your moments or perspectives. Remember what was, but embrace what else can be.  “Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy. It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.”- Henri Nouwen

P.S. Because you know I always have to find a way to tie it back to finances…when things get emotionally overwhelming, take a minute to find something you can control, or just take a break. For me it’s doing something with my finances like inputting numbers or balancing a checkbook, or just sitting and reading one of my current books. I’d love to hear what you do!

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