• Chelsea Bared

An Open Letter to My Mother and the Community that Raised Me

Mother's day is this Sunday and I recognize that I don't do nearly enough to celebrate the woman who gave me life. Not just on the day I was born but who keeps me alive every day.


My mother and I have a special kind of relationship. I've seen her fight battles, against cancer, against the odds of working several jobs and the ways she kept the two of us sheltered in a life where we were humbled. She will change subjects to hide the fact that she is a warrior. Always keeping a plan B. She is powerful and moves mountains to make strangers smile.


Having had me at the tender age of 21 I think about how fast she had to grow up. Providing for another life, all the things she gave up to make sure I never needed for anything- and I never did. How at 28 I still forget to fill up the gas tank and let plants die slowly. How I am nowhere near capable of managing myself to be strong enough to let another human being grow inside of me. And yet she gave me life. Gave me family.


She raised me with community. Gifting me with good friends, and the guidance of others. I was surrounded by strong women at a young age.


She taught me the closeness of family and the value of keeping them. The lessons of boundaries, emotions, and understanding that your voice is valid.


But, the greatest gift she ever gave me was her neverending support. The belief that I could do anything. Sometimes nieve, I lived a life believing I could do it all. But, in that, it never stopped me from trying. If I came to her and said I wanted to run away and live in a van- she would ask what color I would paint it. If I came to her and said I was moving to another country to volunteer, she asked how big of a suitcase I needed. There has never been a dream so swelling that I could think up, or that she would put down.


Because of her endless support I have accomplished so much. I have had the opportunity to fail, to pick myself back up and try new things. To learn that I hate ice skating and that even though I love National Geographic, I in fact do not wish to be a photographer. But, I love trapeze and volunteering. I've been to countless countries, learned a new language, and graduated with a master's degree.


Sometimes we yell at each other in passion, and though it may seem to the outsider that we might not get along- we have a bond that is irreplaceable. She taught me to feel everything intensely, to be true to myself and has given me the opportunity to try everything. I am fortunate to have a supportive mother. An understanding, caring, and embracing mother. But, mostly I am grateful to have her as someone I can confide in.


She's blessed me with a community. Raised me around strong women.


A Godmother who remains a strong influence in my life. Who keeps me level and balanced. Who taught me the wisdom of spirit and the treasure of writing. Aunts who inspire me to walk in my truth and to reach for dreams higher than what I thought I was capable of. Friends who give me courage and space to be vulnerable. Cousins who offer me compassion. My sister who has shown me examples of forgiveness and unconditional love. A grandmother who embodies courage and strength, holding our family together. Teachers and healers who invoke me to be authentic. Host moms, sisters, cousins, and friends who gave me a family while I was volunteering overseas and genuine connections.


And as I look back on the relationships with these women I celebrate them because I carry them with me every day.


I may never choose to have children but I have birthed many things and will continue to grow and through my work, poetry, and teachings, and may all of your wisdom live on.


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