This blog post is dedicated to mothers everywhere who do more than just nurture and coddle, because mothers also provide a keen sense of toughness. My mother’s name was Mary Santullo Coscia. Born in the Bronx, New York in 1919, she was a dark-haired beauty and her teenage years coincided with the Great Depression.
Needless to say, she was used to hardship and obstacles which were overcome with good old-fashioned tenacity. In 1935, at only sixteen years old, my mom married my dad (someday, I’ll share the story about how they met).
Fortunately for me and my seven siblings mom’s mature and responsible stature served us well. Our mom had the toughness, wisdom and courage to ensure that her children would also be able to thrive in the midst of life’s unfairness.
I will never forget a particular Sunday afternoon in 1970 – I was a teenager. I went to the local roller skating rink with some friends. This was my first roller skating experience, so it took me about twenty minutes to learn to balance myself on skates. Being a cocky sixteen year old, once I mastered the skating, I started to get a little reckless and entered a turn at a high speed and lost my balance.
I extended my right hand towards the floor to buffer my fall and this resulted in a trip to the hospital and a broken wrist. The doctor wrapped my right arm in a cast from my hand all the way to my shoulder.
When I arrived home from the hospital, later that afternoon, my mother satisfying her initial concerns about my well-being walked me into our dining room. She asked me to sit at the dining room table while she went to the other room to retrieve a writing pad and a pen.
Speaking in her calm, authoritative tone my mother reminded me that Monday was a school day. She told me that my broken wrist would not keep me out of school. Then she handed me the writing pad and pen and she suggested that I learn to write with my left hand so I wouldn’t fall behind in any of my school work.
I sat at the dining room table for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening writing with my left hand. My left hand writing became fairly legible. I went to school on Monday morning and by Tuesday I was becoming a proficient left hand writer.
My mother had enough wisdom and courage to not view me as a disabled person when I arrived home from the hospital. Instead, she saw the latent potential that resided deep inside me as well as my ability to perfect my left-hand writing skills. I take no credit for the solution my mother proposed. It was all her idea. If it were up to me, I would have tried to skip school altogether. However, my mom viewed my broken wrist as a minor setback which would be easily overcome with some old-fashioned toughness and innovation.
Much was learned from that experience. Obstacles are ever present, and have a way of setting us back temporarily, and often a wise and courageous mother can help to bring to surface our latent potential.
Happy Mother’s Day!