We just left June, the month in which we celebrate fathers, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my mother. Her birthday was in June, and she would have been 86 this year. I lost her when I was 24, and have now lived my life longer without her than with her.

I’m not feeling sad or melancholy, though. Instead, I’m feeling grateful. I’m grateful for the many gifts she gave me. Thoughgratitude-journal she was a single mom, she somehow managed to see that I took more than one music lesson a week, participated in Girl Scouts, and theater, and college bowl. Now that I am a parent of teenagers, and work with many as clients, I appreciate her efforts all the more.

But what did she really give me, beyond the activities and the uniforms? She gave me grit, and persistence, and drive. By enabling me to participate in so many things, she gave me a love of music and art that feeds my soul. She taught me lessons about kindness and generosity, about meeting people where they are, not where you think they should be. I believe she taught me how to love fiercely.

I’m not sure that I fully expressed to her how grateful I was for these gifts. I certainly tried, but I hadn’t yet lived enough  to know how precious her gifts were. What I can do today is let those around me know how grateful I am for their presence and for the gifts they offer to my life.

In that spirit, thanks for taking the time to read this post.  If you’re feeling grateful, let someone know.



By |2017-05-19T00:20:50+00:00July 12th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Vanessa Whalen is a psychotherapist in private practice with over 20 years of experience. She sees children as well as adults in her practice, doing play therapy with children as young as three. Vanessa draws on numerous theoretical frameworks in her practice and has assisted clients in dealing with a variety of issues. Vanessa has degrees in psychology and social work and is a member of the Association for Play Therapy. In addition to her practice, Vanessa is co-founder of Snappy Kids LLC. Snappy Kids makes therapeutic mobile apps for children to help them learn about and manage feelings. She serves on the board of the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center and is a member of the League of Women Voters. She is a musician as well and enjoys playing whenever her schedule permits. Vanessa enjoys music, gardening,cooking, good books, good movies, and the New York Times Sunday crossword. She is an ardent yogi and student of Eastern thought. She and John have two teenage sons, one of whom attends college in Chicago. Vanessa and John have been married since May 2015, and Filimin is a project they share. When they are not working, they enjoy riding the tandem bike, travel, family time, and college basketball. Through her posts in Reflections, Vanessa hopes to share some of the knowledge and insight she has gained over the years, and to maybe start a conversation or two.

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