I Got it From My Mama: A Tribute to the Woman Who Literally Made Me Who I Am

Posted in Fly&Dine Essays

My Facebook feed is currently filled with photos of people with their mothers. I think that’s sweet, but everyone can post a photo of their mom to Facebook. It’s the easy thing to do, like buying a bouquet of flowers or a card from the grocery store. While we all rush to say “I love you, Mom” on Mother’s Day, few of us say why we love our mothers.

I was born lucky. Two parents, stable housing, love everywhere I looked. The vast majority of people in this world are not born into such fortunate circumstances, but I won the birth lottery and found myself in a nice, suburban middle class home. We lived in a duplex and we were fortunate enough that my mother didn’t have to work. Instead, she focused on raising three kids. My childhood was filled with love, education, and the encouragement to follow the things that excited me. I was supported in all of my endeavors from baseball to theatre to the time when I begged to take horseback riding lessons. My mom made all of this happen. Just as a museum curator creates the total museum experience for visitors, my mother curated my childhood and she was good at her job. Not good. Excellent.

Now, over thirty years after I left the motel of her womb, it’s incredible to look back and see the lasting impact she’s made on my life in terms of how my personality is a reflection of hers.


I have a sense of justice on par with a federal judge. Fairness is paramount to me in my life and that comes directly from her. In order to keep three kids from constantly committing fratricide, my mom ran the house with fairness as the guiding principle. Any arguments were evaluated based on input from both sides and punishments were meted accordingly. To this day, I carry that with me. Fairness is what keeps the world in balance. While it’s impossible to regulate (or even expect) fairness in the real world, I can emphasize fairness in my own life and feel good about that. Thank you, Mom, for giving me the gift of fairness.

The Value of Meaning What You Say and Saying What You Mean

Having conversations with mother can be difficult. In important conversations, she pauses for long periods of time so that she can craft a sentence that reflects her thoughts exactly. It’s infuriating at times, but I love her for it anyway. My mother doesn’t sugarcoat things and she never says something that she doesn’t believe. The truth is just as important as fairness is to her and, as such, honesty is a virtue that I revere in my own life. If she reads something that I’ve written and she doesn’t like it, she won’t just tell me it’s wonderful because I’m her son. With my mom, there is no trophy just for trying. It hurts occasionally when you just want an attaboy, but the truth is, I wouldn’t want it any other way. My Mom says what she means and means what she says and you can always trust that you’ll get the truth from her. Unshakeable honesty is a rare commodity in this world and I’m grateful to have it from her. Thank you, Mom, for giving me the gift of knowing the value of measuring your words.

Calm Under Pressure

I used to get in a lot of accidents when I was a kid. Broken bones, cuts, scrapes, bruises — there were so many of each that I was nicknamed “The Calamity Kid.” While some parents may freak out at the sight of their child’s blood, my mother had the amazing ability to remain calm and reassure me that everything was going to be okay. No matter how many times I had to go to the emergency room, I had her next to me and felt safe. Even now, as an adult, if something terrible happens, I know I can call her and calm down. Luckily, I’ve taken this from my mom and instilled it in my own life. Instead of panic, my go-to response to crisis is to be rational. It’s an invaluable skill in life. Thank you, Mom, for giving me the gift of being calm under pressure.


We laughed a lot in my house. Humor was a big part of how we related to each other and being able to laugh together is what held us together as a family. Now, I’ve made humor part of my career and there’s nothing I like more than laughing and making other people laugh. Some people walk through life taking everything seriously. I owe my mother big time for not being one of those people. Thank you, Mom, for giving me the gift of loving to laugh.


My mom was the 1979 Boggle Champion of Chicago. An absurd title, sure, but an important one in terms of how it shaped my childhood. In fact, Boggle is the Official Kessler Family Sport thanks to my mom. It may not seem like much, but when a word game is the most-played game in your house, you grow up with an appreciation for words that you just don’t find in a Monopoly house. My mother encouraged me to be a voracious reader and an excellent learner and a lover of puns. Now, I’m a writer and I owe my love of words to her. Thank you, Mom, for giving me the gift of words and setting me on the path that I’m still following today.

Making the People I Love Feel Special

My mom is an amazing communicator. There was never a shortage of hearing “I love you” in my house and that wasn’t just represented in words. For all kinds of holidays, she would put together little gifts for us kids. Sometimes, out of nowhere, she would surprise us with expressions of her love for no reason other than the fact that we were hers; a Matchbox car sent away for from the back of a cereal box, a trip to Toys ‘R Us the day Super Mario Bros. 2 came out so that we could have it right away. She made us feel special all of the time and I’ve incorporated that in my own life. I love saying “I love you.” I get so excited to find the perfect birthday gift for the people that I love. I love showing the people around me how much they mean to me and it’s because my mom did the same for me. Thank you, Mom, for giving me to the gift of making the people I love feel special.

Most importantly, thank you, Mom, for giving me the gift of being your son. It’s an honor to love you as much as I do.




  1. You have always been and always will be a gift to me as well. Love you with all my heart, or more fairly, love you with your fair share of my heart, 1/3.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *