Whether you had a perfect childhood or got traumatized by early experiences, we all could agree that our moms influence us in the most profound ways. An while each one of us has a mom, by definition, I consider myself lucky. My mom is an amazing woman who was ahead of her time, and in many ways, challenging the status quo of what was possible for women in post-USSR Ukraine.
Today, I will share how my mom influenced me and how that impacted my life.
One of the primary things I recall when I think about my mom was how much freedom she gave me. Since I was very young, I was allowed to believe what I want, read what I see fit, go where I want, do what I want, and see who I want. Yes, of course, my family had limits, and yes, there were consequences for breaking the rules. That said, I was a free spirit, and my mom supported me soaring high.
I recall going for the first time in my life to the grocery store to buy some fresh bread. I think I was about five years old at that time? The grocery store was two blocks away from our apartment, and it would not be a big deal, except I had to cross the busy road on my own.
I did go to the store alone, and I think it was one of my first experiences I recall as a kid. I do remember, the warmth of bread in my hands, and I was so busy stuffing the bread bits in my mouth, and I almost got run over by a car. The tires screeched, the driver stopped the car on time, but I did get very scared.
After I got home, my mom comforted me and taught me how to cross the road in the future.
Not sure what my parents intended when they allowed me this much freedom. I did many things on my own: signed myself up for activities, got my a library pass as early as they did, and took a public bus by the age of six.
While it was exciting and scary at the time, I do know for sure, I build tremendous ability to “figure things out” and got “street smart” very quickly. All my childhood experiences led me to form a great deal of confidence in my own abilities and a “can do” attitude that I believe is responsible for my success at work and relationships today.
No matter what was happening in my crazy teenage life, I was expected to be honest with my mom. She would see my fibbing miles away and continue telling me that I could bypass the embarrassment of being caught lying and the punishment by simply being honest. Well, easier said than done. Not all the deeds I was up to in my teenage years were mom-approved and even though I knew better, I kept trying to fizzle out from being punished by telling stories.
I grew up with high-integrity parents and yes, eventually, I learned that truth is, however ugly it might be is better than a pretty lie.
My integrity led me to meet and select high integrity partners, being honest with my boss, and speak up during meetings. In my new family, there are no-PC (politically correct) topics or taboos topics. We tell the truth. We say the truth to each other, to our kids, and most importantly, we live the way that makes me feel proud and in alignment with our values of integrity. It is not always the easiest way, but I love the fact that my word is something others can count on.
If there is one thing you would notice about my mom, no matter where you meet her, it is her sense of style. No matter the occasion, she would also have a stunning presence and dress up. When I am looking at our earlier pictures, I recall that our mom would either had to make or knit on her own and our clothing due to budget constraints. Regardless of the source of clothing, the quality of her wardrobe, colors, combinations of styles was always masterful. My mom’s love of clothing and quality attire rubbed off on me.
Today, when my husband and I go on our weekly dates, he does not dress until he sees me. He knows, should he dress first and I decide to level up my outfit, he may have to change his! My mom’s passion for a beautiful sense of style helped me to land jobs, meet incredible people during conferences, and feel and look fantastic at any event.
The sense of style, I believe, is a somewhat inborn talent, and I am indeed very grateful I was raised by such a great teacher. My mom always inspired me to continue exploring and learning about the power of executive presence and the energy behind a well-dressed woman. Someone who owns the space and leads the conversation, with the confidence of an expert, for no other reason, but for making a lasting first impression with the way we dress and carry ourselves.
I vaguely recall the day in September of 2002, when I called my mom from Kiev and screamed in the phone: “Mom, mom, they gave me a fiancé visa”. That day, one day, one event changed my life forever.
Before traveling to Kiev for a visa interview, I did not ask my parents if it is something I should do. I guess I assumed they would support my decision. I had no idea about the impact of getting the visa, flying to Denver, US, marrying an American, and finally immigrating would be. I bet my parents had no idea either.
I can no idea what that was like for my mom, watching me getting ready and finally leaving Ukraine to meet my fiancé. That must be super scary for my mom. I learned to trust my intuition and my gut, because my parents never questioned me.
Today, as I am looking back, meeting Paul, receiving a fiancé visa, immigrating to U.S., before the war in Ukraine started was the best thing that possibly could have happened to me. Seriously. And back then, in 2002, it was the most uncertain and crazy thing to do. I am so grateful my mom trusted me and blessed me to go on the trip to Denver, where I met Paul, got married, was blessed with three incredible kids, found several businesses, and built such a fulfilling life, traveling all over the world and having a blast every single day!
If my mom would not have trusted me and let me go, all that would not be possible. She did, and I am forever grateful for her support during those turbulent decades after moving to America.
We all have dreams and expectations about how our moms should have been, and all the things that they could do better.
The truth is, my relationships with my mom could not be any more challenging. We fought a lot, we had disagreements, we shouted at each other, she made me cry at times, and I brought her to tears many times as well.
All the said I got lucky. My mom’s wisdom and ability to challenge the status quo helped me pave the path that led me to my success today. I am forever thankful for my mom for the life she gave me. I am convinced, because of her fearlessness, sense of poise, style, integrity, and thirst for freedom, and trust I grew up the confident, assertive, and adventure-seeking woman I am today.
In every cell of my body, I feel her presence, voice, wisdom, hugs, and herself in me. Every day I remember where I came from and thank her for giving me life and raising me. Thank you, Mom. God bless all moms and give them centuries to live on and prosper.