Women's Empowerment

My Mom Taught Me That My Mind Is My Strongest Muscle

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Photo: Tunde Oyeneyin
Who has inspired you? Challenged you? Shaped you? In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re recognizing the women who made us who we are today. To all who came before, the mothers, grandmothers, mentors, teachers, and trailblazers… thank you. Here, Peloton instructor Tunde Oyeneyin expresses gratitude to her mom.

Dear Mom,

It’s been some time since we’ve laid our eyes on one another. Although I can no longer see you in human form, I know that our souls are more connected now than ever before. A lot has changed since you left. We’ve all grown, started new careers, ended them, and started new again. I wish you were still here to share in my joy and to celebrate my wins as your own. Sometimes when I think of you, I dream of having a chance to thank you for all of the selfless hours turned days, weeks, and years that you invested in me, my wellbeing, and my happiness.

What I would give to know you as the world knew you: As just Veronica and not “Mom,” “Mommy,” or “MOM!”. I’m old enough now to fully appreciate you for all that you were. I find myself daydreaming about what it would have been like to have been your colleague or friend. I imagine I would have admired you for your work ethic and the love and care that you provided to your patients. If I was your friend, I would have valued your ability to listen and support, and I’m sure I would have enjoyed trading clothes from your infamous walk-in closet.

You showed me that my mind was my most powerful asset and my strongest muscle.

So much has changed and yet so much has remained the same. The values you instilled in us remain the same. I’ve grown into the woman you always saw me as, even though I didn’t quite see her in myself. You taught me how to hold space and make my presence felt in a room. You showed me that my mind was my most powerful asset and my strongest muscle. You told me that the best way to change was to make changes. You enabled me to see that, while the world flocked towards you for your beauty, it was your words that kept their attention. You taught me not to doubt uncertainty. You reminded me that uncertainty would lead me to a land of infinite and unimaginable possibility. You showed me that I would hold the key to my own success, that ultimately, anything that I wanted out of life was already mine if I was willing to see it for myself and work hard to obtain it.

Twenty-nine years is a long time to own a pair of heels or an antique dresser, but 29 years with you wasn’t enough. When I sit in silence and quiet the thoughts in my head, I look to the sky at night and I see your face. I listen as the wind rustles between the leaves and reflect on the lessons you taught me, acknowledging the person I’ve become because of you.

When I look for you, I find me. I am you—I am all of you. You helped craft me into the woman I am.

Today, I searched for a picture that captured the energy you brought to this world. I wanted a photo that encompassed some of your most defining traits. I looked for one that showed your sarcasm, your wit, your power, and your grace. I searched for a picture that would perfectly display our mother-daughter connection and your grand love for your children. I wanted to find something that embodied who you are with one single glance. I searched and I searched and then I stopped looking. When I look for you, I find me. I am you—I am all of you. You helped craft me into the woman I am. The person that I show up as every day is a result of the love and trust that you poured into me: I am smart, I am kind, and I am beautiful. I am a leader and a listener. I am courageous, bold, and although I sometimes waiver, I always come back to being so unapologetically me. I have a sharp mouth and always stand up, speak up, and rise up to all that I believe is true. I am me, but I am also you.

I feel you in my spirit perhaps more than I did when you were here in living form. My sense of humor, my power, my humility, my ability to love—all that I am, I am because of you.

Mommy, If you are able to receive letters in heaven I just want you to know that we love you and we miss you from here down below.

I love you too much,

Yetunde

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