Would She Be Proud of Me — Personal Reflections on Life Without My Mom 

Reflective sunset in the Florida Keys. Photo taken by author.
Normally I don’t talk too much about my every day life on this blog. But if you’ve been following me on Instagram, then you’d know that this summer has been pretty crazy for me between work, travel, and this blog. Well, thats not even half of the story for why I’ve been so busy. This weekend I’m packing up my life and relocating from Miami, FL to Boston, MA. Now let that soak in for a second. Moving down the street is a hassle as it is, so then try moving 1,500 miles away and adding a bunch of emotional baggage to all that. I’ve totally got this, but it’s a lot. It’s honestly kind of a miracle I’ve still been posting to my blog every week.

It’s been challenging to find time to sit back and reflect on all the change and transformation that’s happening in my life right now. However, between car rides to work, Home Depot, U-Haul,  my apartment, and especially on my one long car drive to Key West two weekends ago, there’s been one question that I can’t get out of my mind — what would my mom think of all of this?

One of the major emerging themes from my blog is about coming to terms with life after my mom’s passing from breast cancer fifteen years ago. I’ve had to grow up without the presence of my mom, and that’s had more of a difference on my personal growth than anyone could ever realize. I wouldn’t be who I am today if my mom didn’t die, that’s just the truth, and this cross-country move is a perfect example of that. 

Let’s start with the basics. My mom would’ve had a FREAK OUT about me moving to Miami for school six years ago. She would have NEVER wanted me to live that far away from home. And the University of Miami, my alma mater, would not have flied with her either. She was nervous about the thought of my brother going to UMASS Amherst for college because for her, it was too much of a party school. Now try UM, located halfway across the country 😂 I’m also driving solo this weekend from Miami to Boston — my fiancé already moved up there about a week ago. My mom would be worried sick about me driving alone on the open road for over 1,500 miles. She would be extremely protective of me. And on a side note, let’s not even mention me studying abroad several times these past few years throughout Latin America, that might have given her a low key heart attack! 

If my mom had never passed away, I don’t think that I ever would have moved down here. Without my mom in my life, I’ve adopted values that are in many ways starkingly different from my mom’s values. And that difference in values drove my decisions to move to Miami six years ago in the first place. 

So let’s do a deep dive on that for a second. What do I mean by values? The word ‘values’ to me used to be one of those words that was rather amorphous and ambiguous. I never thought about it much until a year ago during a group therapy session (perhaps I’ll explain this more another time). The therapist handed out worksheets that had a list of commonly mentioned values in people’s lives. Those values ranged from family, friends, religion, school, wealth, success, etc. The therapist asked us to really think about which values meant the most to us and to write them down in order of importance. It’s an excercise that quite frankly I’m still doing a year later, and I’ll probably continue doing for the rest of my life. 

Here’s a comprehensive list of some frequently mentioned values, according to Carnegie Mellon. Some of the values that I chose from the list are: Boldness, Creativity, Diversity, Empathy, Freedom, Health, Independence, Inspiration,  Loyalty, Making a difference, Open-Mindedness, and Passion. Now I can’t assume what exactly my mom would’ve chosen, but I think as her daughter, I can make a pretty good educated guess. Some of the values I think she would’ve chosen are: Caring, Calmness, Family, Happiness, Health, Kindness, Love, Loyalty, Spirituality, Stability, and Traditionalism. 

It’s pretty clear that there are several key differences in our values, but there’s one main difference I want to address. My mom valued stability, and I value change. As an anecdote, my dad was more adventurous than my mom, and he was willing to move away from their home town to try new things. But my mom wanted to be close to family, and so as a couple they made the decision to stay. That said, I’m unsure how much I would’ve embraced change if my mom hadn’t passed away. But I’m also pretty sure that as my father’s daughter, this rift in our values, may have happened either to the same or to a lesser degree as it has today, and if it did, it would’ve caused conflict between her and I. In spite of this rift, I believe that between my mom’s core values of family and love, and my core values of empathy, would’ve allowed us to surpass all differences of opinion. And sense we would both value loyalty, I think that’s what would continue to drive our relationship forward with one another. But maintaining relationships is hard, and I can’t imagine that it would’ve been without any conflict. 

People have told me throughout my life that my mom would’ve been proud of me. Usually I’d like to think their right. But sometimes, I’m not really too sure. Would my mom be proud of all I’ve accomplished in Miami, even though she would’ve probably never agreed with my decision to move down here? Would she be excited for this next chapter in my life, or would she have reservations? I can only hope she would because fundamentally I try each and everyday to embody all that she taught me as a child. But it’ll only ever be hope, because she’ll never be able to tell me. I am left to assume. 

I do think though my mom would be envious about how close I am going to be to the beach in the North Shore area of Boston. She loved the New England coast after all. I hope that I can channel some of her epic energy as I’m embarking on this new chapter of my life. One thing is for sure — whether she’s proud of me or not, I know she’s always with me. 

Have comments about this week’s post? Send me your thoughts either below, on Instagram or Facebook @graceslawskiwrites, or on Twitter @graceslawski ✌️


  1. Beautiful post, insightful and real. So often we reduce our beloved dead to two dimensional caricatures. To acknowledge the probable non alignment of values between you and your mom is to honor yourself and your mom as fully human. Thank you for your posts despite your busy life, and best of luck on your move.
    with warm regards from across the blogosphere,
    xo iris


    • Thanks for this lovely comment. Apologies for the delay – yes I’d like to report that I made the trip safely, although my body is certainly still weary from the travel and stress. I am elated that this post resonated with you, it’s a challenge to be so open about this topic. It pains me to no end to think about these tensions between my mom and I but I agree, whether it hurts me to write about or not, it’s important to show that my mom is not a flat dimensional character after death. Thank you for your readership and your understanding ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

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