Perhaps it’s because she has inspired so many with her creativity, dedication, perseverance, and love. Or perhaps it’s because I have seen her endure extreme sadness, overwhelming challenges, and difficult life transitions all with courage, grace, and inner beauty. No matter how I look at it, there is no human I know that has been more of a classic influence on me than my own mom. So just in time for Mother’s Day, I share with you as part of my 20 Classics series, one of the greatest classics of all.
She has been there all my life, sometimes close by and for the past 20 years, quite far away. However, regardless of physical proximity, my mom continues to be an enormous influence on who I am today: she literally dusted me off and got me back on my horse after a fall, she wiped my tears after school if things didn’t go well on the school playground, and she always told me I just needed to do my best. Years later she taught me to cook, needlepoint, plant planters, grow Amaryllis bulbs, bake a Tart Tatin, roast a chicken, and unintentionally, how to decorate a beautiful home. Aside from raising my sister and me with wholehearted devotion and patience, I have watched my mom with awe as she embraced every opportunity and situation in her own life’s pursuits with vigor and intelligence.
She was a fashion influencer before the term existed. For years before I was born until I was a young girl, Mom was the fashion director of Seventeen Magazine. I remember the traveling fashion trailer that sometimes came to do photoshoots at our home on Long Island with chic models and piles of dresses, beads, and hats for my sister and me to play with and try on. If you grew up around us, you may remember how she made an enormous gingerbread house from scratch each holiday season and donated it to be auctioned off to benefit the Boys and Girls club. She taught cooking classes for local children and became a successful French pastry chef all while she was home raising us. She even built me a dollhouse with electricity and herringbone wood floors to my exact specifications that included chandeliers, sconces, and a floral needlepoint living room rug she stitched. As we got older, she welcomed, entertained, and mothered the entourage of teenage girls I piled into the Grand Wagoneer and brought home from boarding school for long weekends.
It isn’t all the things Mom did for us and others that make her a classic though. It’s her innate ability to pivot and adapt with grace and vigor as life evolved. As her fashion career slowed, she transitioned to cooking, interiors, and gardening. We used to call her the original Martha Stewart as my mom graciously up-leveled so many aspects of domestic life beyond everyone’s expectations. She even transitioned a few of her hobbies into small businesses over the years as everyone wanted a little piece of her talents such as her mouthwatering fruit tarts or having her help with decorating their own homes. After my sister Marisa and I were grown and independent she became an accomplished sailor and golfer, all while still doing all of the other things she loved for herself and her community.
Since my first son Henry was born 20 years ago she has been the best, most communicative, and hands-on Grammy a child could dream of. She dropped everything and was with me instantly when each of my sons was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. She educated herself quickly about managing the disease, follows research updates from JDRF, and cared for my young children with all the knowledge and empathy the boys needed during those challenging times. Currently, she is Grammy to eleven and has a wonderful husband who adores her joie de vivre and dedication to family.
My mom continues to be a classic—full of energy, with loving attention to family and friends, and an altruistic and devoted attitude towards her communities. Mom, I could not adore you more and am constantly filled with gratitude as you are always there for me and my family no matter what comes our way. Everyone who gets to be with you is so lucky.