Being Enough this Mother’s Day

Last week I had the pleasure of chatting with other wine lovers and professionals about the great wines coming out of the Finger Lakes. We tasted Lemberger, Pinot Noir, and two Russian grapes that were new for me, Sapervi and Sereksiya. I always learn something from the producers and writers, but this year, one 140 character tidbit in particular keeps ringing around in my head. Julia Burke, NyWineWench, wrote “Nice of YOU to appreciate it (instead of comparing NY reds to Napa cab)! ” to which Mary Cressler of Vindulge responded, “No way!! NY is NY. CA is CA. OR is OR. Absolutely no need to ever compare to each other. They are who they are!” This idea is one that extends to other areas of our lives, doesn’t it?

If you have been drinking wine for any period of time, you’ve likely come across the idea of terroir, the expression of the land found in wine. Now, there are debates over this, but I’ll leave you to research that for yourself. I am more interested in the general idea of comparing. If you open a Pinot from New York and expect it to taste like one from California, you might be taken aback. If you open one from Burgundy and expect it to taste like one Oregon, you may (or may not) be surprised. Regardless of your expectation, if you don’t take the time to stop comparing, and enjoy it for what it is, you are likely going to miss out on something special.

The other night my brother-in-law made a fish dish, Halibut with Balsamic strawberries. I opened a Pinot from New York, hoping it would work, but it didn’t have the level of acid I was looking for. My husband suggested one of our “flagship” Pinots but I knew that it would be too big, too much black fruit for the dish. We opened the 2010 Stoller Pinot Noir from Dundee Hills and it was just right. Gorgeous cranberry red, red fruit, spice, a bit of fennel. Lovely.

Each Pinot had its own personality and it would be hard to compare them. One was great with fish while the other paired nicely with mushroom risotto. The other wine is big and beautiful, but it would have overpowered the dish. You just need the right wine for the right dish.

After a long day of mothering, a dear friend and I went for a walk last night, after dinner was served, dishes were done, while our husbands gave the children a bath. She was feeling pretty beat up. The worst offender? Herself. You see, she is a fantastic mom, but she doesn’t see it. She only sees that another friend never seems to lose it and she has THREE kids. She wonders how I find time to write and I have TWO kids. She thinks that she is not allowed to have a bad day and that she has no excuse for not get everything done because she only has ONE child. Which is funny, because I look at her super clean house and see how she’s so good and playing with her son and instructing him. I see that she’s in fantastic shape and takes him to the park and museum while I send my kids out in the yard so I can have 30 minutes to write.

Being a mother can, at times, feel like equal parts of joy and suffering. Comparison likes to rear its ugly head in both arenas. Comparing the successes and milestones, comparing the challenges and woes. This Mother’s Day, I challenge you, I challenge myself, to see the coming year through different eyes. How different would our day look if we choose grace, love, and mercy, not only for children but for ourselves? If instead of “doing more” we find peace and satisfaction in the “being?”

Brené Brown talks a lot about comparing in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection. In the book, her friend reminds her that “Comparison is the thief of happiness.” Isn’t it though? She reminds us that comparison is “paralyzing” and prevents us from being creative. If creativity is an expression of self, and we are worried about how we measure up to another’s standard, how can we be fully ourselves? If we try to mother our children in the way our neighbor does, is that really best for our child? There is always more to learn, ideas and inspiration to gain from others. But if we aren’t living authentically and being true to ourselves, living “wholeheartedly” as Brown say, then we are not fully living. You are the best mom for your child. You in your whole, complete self. Your whole and complete self can only be found by giving ourselves the space to be different, the grace to grow and fail.

Motherhood is full of “doing.” There is always more to “do.” But do you also value the being? There is a danger when our focus is on the “doing” rather than “being.” Life becomes exhausting and “it” will never get “done.” Is your value tied to what you accomplish or do you believe that who you are is enough? Being available to question while they explore? Being an example in your career or at the grocery store? Being a constant in their lives? A source of comfort? Isn’t that just as important?

Our children are a reflection of us in so many ways-in appearance, in behavior, talents, and challenges. Sometimes the reflection can be a little hard to take. Sometimes, it reflects something beautiful. It always reflects a unique image, an image that IS enough, just right for your child, just right for you. Do you appreciate its unique beauty or are you too busy comparing?

Addie Broyles of the Austin American Statesman interviewed me this week for pairings with a Mother’s Day brunch. One question she asked was what I wanted for Mother’s Day. In the pre-coffee fog, my immediate response was to not do dishes and to have a few moments of peace. Now, I still stand by that, but with some time to think, I have an additional response.

This Mother’s Day, I wish all of my friends, those that are mothers and those that are not, peace. Peace with oneself, peace in your home. May you come closer to understanding your fullness and not feel the need to compare. Enjoy what you can, let go of what you don’t. Do the dishes, don’t do the dishes, but keep it in perspective. Rejoice in the successes of others and strive to find your own success, with your OWN definition. Love big and with grace. And enjoy what is in YOUR glass, right here, right now.

I need to add a big Happy Mother’s Day to my own mom, a woman who always loved big, who was always there, and has never fully seen all the beauty in her own reflection. Cheers!

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Being a stay- at-home mom can leave one thirsting for a taste of the outside world, a world in which sentences are composed of more than three words. Being an educator means one is always seeking an opportunity to explore and learn. Being a woman with a need to connect can be a challenge when adult conversations are rare. In wine, I find the marriage of art and science, agriculture and storytelling provides limitless areas to explore. But it is the people that keep me engaged. The tenacity needed to keep the family dream alive, the risk to start anew, the trials and principles. I love the history of the vine, the impact of a season, the sentiment in the bottle. That is why I write. I write to tell their stories, to share a piece of mine. I write to learn as I teach others. I write to connect with new friends, to disconnect from the world. I write to celebrate what makes each of us unique, and that which ties us together.

29 thoughts on “Being Enough this Mother’s Day

  1. Reblogged this on SAHMmelier and commented:

    I published this piece last year and it seemed to strike a cord with many readers. I thought I’d send it out again this year. Happy Mother’s Day to all. I see some good wine in my future this weekend.


  2. I buy the argument on terroir – The wines from different regions just can’t be compared. For example, wines from here in NC have a bit of tobacco taste since most wineries are old tobacco farms. However, some grapes just don’t grow well in certain climates, etc. For example Pinot Noir is a finicky fruit and shouldn’t be grown everywhere. It would do terrible here in NC. Vigonier, also finicky, grows perfect here. I think this can also be a metaphor for life as well. While we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, we should also know our own strengths. What can we grow well. I enjoyed your blog (even though I’m not a parent).


    1. Thanks for reading and I, too, am a believer and advocate. Learning about what does well in Texas and enjoying the variations by region is yet another thing I love about wine. I’ve sampled and enjoyed Biltmore wines, especially the sparklers, and look fwd to learning more. I’ll check out your blog too’


      1. A warning on Biltmore… most grapes aren’t from NC. Not sure how many real NC vineyards ship out of state. Where are you from? Texas? Perhaps we can setup a wine shipping exchange? Beer bloggers do it…. You need to try a Viognier from here!


  3. Stoller SV Pinot was in my glass earlier this week, too! We visited Stoller on a trip to Oregon last summer . . . really impressed with their wines. I will definitely be back for more! Your halibut with balsamic sounds like a perfect partner . . . Salud!


  4. Great post, Alissa. As D’Vine Wine Time said, one of your very best. It is sooo difficult to learn not to compare… Believe it or not, but this was on my mind over the last few days, for no particular reason. And when it comes to wine, I definitely agree – we need to take it for what it is. Sometimes I surprise myself – the more I get immersed in the wine world, the less of the “bad wines” I find…
    Happy Mother’s Day!


    1. I agree wholeheartedly with Anatoli, and I have been contemplating a Mother’s Day post. Mine will certainly come from a different perspective for so many reasons, some due to “terroir”. Your post certainly has made an impact on my thoughts. Thank you…..


  5. I love this post. Probably one of your best. Very thought provoking and gracious. As a woman that does not have children, I can tell you that what you say in this post is so very true and applies to so many areas outside of motherhood, especially for women. I have many things going on in my life right now & your words did indeed help remind me that the comparisons I do, all too often, are only bringing me more harm than good. Thank you for reminding all of us. As for the wine….I couldn’t agree more! Enjoy it for what it is and where it comes from!
    Great article, thanks again!


  6. Beautiful words…as a mother of two teenage girls, I can totally relate. And for someone who is “uneducated” about wine, you bring some excellent knowledge to the table! I’m glad I found you!


  7. I love this! I love how you connect the ways that we need to see and respect the individual qualities of wines from different regions with NOT comparing ourselves as moms in such a destructive (and too common) way. Happy Mother’s Day!


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