~ Jessica and Jennifer ~

Ebony and Ivory. One is introverted, and the other is far from it.

One expresses wisdom likened to King Solomon, and the other seems to be a character clone of the Notorious RBG. #Truth

While one sweetly calls me “Mom” the other affectionately say’s “Mama.”

Both are adventurous, artistic and exceptionally beautiful,

and their story embodies the spirit of finding meaning in life

It was a sunny summer morning in 1996 when my family of five moved into a new Southern California neighborhood. There was already plenty to be done. The day-after clutter of a residential move had proven to consume the next few weeks of my life before a sudden and very intense knock at the front door. It changed the next five years of my family forever.

Who could this be, choosing the no-nonsense door knock in lieu of the conventional doorbell? I answered. Before me stood a four-foot spirited child whose eyes were hidden under an baseball cap that sat tilted on the side of her long blonde hair. An official-sized basketball was tucked securely underarm, and she spoke with unwavering fearlessness. In less than a second, Jenny had my full attention. “You got anybody I can play with?” I sized up this sweet little minion and called my middle child Melissa to the door. If she could handle My Beloved Melissa, then she passes the test. Melissa ruled in those days.

The next five years were filled with homemade forts, little red wagon rides, bat mitzvah, and baptisms. We made cookies, chased hamsters around the house, fed ducks on the nearby golf course, and I broke up countless annoying fights on who gets to lick the loaded cookie batter from the TWO mixer beaters between the FOUR kids. Ahhh, the memories!

Jenny came through our front door practically every day. No knock necessary. And when summoned home in the evenings, she would immediately call our house to talk to the kids until bedtime. They all played well together, but her bond with Jessica was special. They were inseparable – until we made another move. To another city. Five years later.

We lost touch with Jenny for over 15 years until last summer when my son Jeffrey spotted her at a community festival where they all grew up. Our family all met up and reunited to catch up on life. There was so much to talk about, and we didn’t want to lose the momentum of the opportunity.

At the festival, I realized a huge mistake that I made in 2001.

We moved away, and I left a special young child behind with nothing but memories. That evening, my husband added Jenny to our family vacation itinerary where we spent a week catching up on life in Oahu, Hawaii. Jess and Jenny, caught up on the years and learned that they continue to have so much in common. They both still love watching Disney’s, The Little Mermaid. They both drive the same style of car! Same model! Same year and same color! One has a hardtop, the other a convertible. I’ll let you guess which one drives which! Even more incredible, they were both home in Oxnard preparing for a move to San Francisco. As fate would have it, they are formally back together again. Best friends, sisters, and advocates for each other. For a lifetime.

There are many lessons that I can share about this experience. One lesson, of course, is gratitude.

The most important lesson, however, is geared to the many people who have the privilege of being adored by someone. Let’s not take lightly the relationships that our children build in life and the effect that they have on everyone. As adults, leaders, parents, mentors, and the like, we sometimes are on the move because of jobs or other opportunities but don’t weigh the meaning of what we leave behind. Especially the aftermath of missing out on a chance to watch someone grow. I missed out on so much, but I am deeply grateful to be reunited.

Jenny is still bold and tenderhearted. She still commands my attention and calls me Mama. My heart skips a beat when we FaceTime each other. I can’t believe how much she means to me. This is the best Mother’s Day’s yet.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers! We can possibly have the hardest job in the world. Here is to hoping that you cherish the memories of your life experience and know that you are unknowingly touching so many lives. Be present. Be reflective, and be mindful in the journey. More notably, may fate grant you a great blessing to see your reward.

#Empathy #MothersDay #Leadership #WorkLifeBalance #Family #Diversity #Inclusion #Mindfulness #LifeLessons #SelfAwareness