What makes a phenomenal mother?

If you’ve ever met my mom, Rita P. Mitchell, then you already know that she is bright, brilliant, beautiful, inspiring, generous, and of course, PHENOMENAL! But while many of you may know her as a friend, mentor, leader, trusted advisor, expert banker, and board chair who moves mountains... I have the unique pleasure of knowing her as she is in her most awe-inspiring and natural state as my mother.

What makes a phenomenal mom? First of all, I consider my mom to be my best friend. How does that happen? In my mind, there are 4 key areas that truly set my mom apart from the rest in the unofficial “best mom of the year” awards. My mom is phenomenal because she…

  1. Believes the impossible is possible
  2. Sets the best example
  3. Lets my light shine the brightest
  4. Guides me through the darkest caves and the over the highest mountains

My mom is phenomenal because she believes the impossible is possible.

From birth, my mom always believed in me and my abilities even if I did not show signs of skill in a particular area. From teaching me my ABC's before I was old enough to talk to encouraging me to go France at 13 to improve my French skills to convincing me I had the “math gene” when I was struggling with math in the 6th grade. The “math gene” story is one of my favorites… the short version is that I was struggling with math in middle school and one day I came home and told my parents that girls just weren’t good at math. My mom said, well everyone in our family has something called the “math gene” and that mine just hadn’t kicked in yet. Wide-eyed, I looked at her and asked if that were really true. She said, of course, while my dad looked on in disbelief nearby. He told mom later, Brittany is never going to go for this “math gene” story. But I did, and in a few short weeks math suddenly made sense and I was getting some of the highest grades in the class. Then I came home and told mom, it finally happened! My math gene just kicked in! And mom said, of course, I knew it would, it always does. Phenomenal!

My mom is phenomenal because she sets the best example.

My mom works harder than anyone I know. Even now, that she is “retired,” she seems busier and more involved than ever! She has always taught me the importance of being involved in the community and giving back. When I was younger, I didn’t think I had a lot to give, but she encouraged me to figure out what things I cared about in life and to go volunteer for organizations that supported my passions. Thus in college, I volunteered at the Humane Society, taught 4th graders how to balance checkbooks through Junior Achievement, raised money for kids with cancer through a 24-hr annual fundraiser called Dance Marathon and spent a weekend helping the elderly sign up for Medicare and Medicaid. Later on, I did more volunteering in grad school based on my personal passions. However, after grad school, my mom said I really need to join the local Rotary club. I was skeptical at first because I wasn’t sure if the club’s mission was going to align with my personal passions. But after joining, I realized that the local Rotary was truly the heart of each city. For the first time, I was surrounded by people from different industries and different backgrounds, from small business owners to local politicians to educators to dentists to the owner of the local airport to the owner of a local brewery and more. I learned more about what it takes to build a sustainable, growing, inclusive community, and what it means to make a significant impact than I had ever learned from simply walking dogs (which I still enjoy). Still to this day, I am in awe of the amount of consideration mom takes before making any decisions that impact the community. No matter previous conflict or complex history, mom always puts the good of the organization and the people it serves above her personal opinion. It’s very similar to the famous Rotary 4-way test:

  • Is it the truth?
  • Is it fair to all concerned?
  • Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
  • Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Phenomenal!

My mom is phenomenal because she lets my light shine the brightest!

No matter how many accolades and awards mom gets and no matter how intensely the spotlight follows her around like a high-powered singularly-focused Rita-magnet, I have never felt like I was “less than” or desperately trying to peek out from behind her shadow. My mom goes out of her way to make sure my talents are recognized, my opinion is heard, my achievements are celebrated, that I know that I am beautiful and that I have the confidence to own my own power and own all the things that make me phenomenal. As she was writing her book about her life and her wisdom, my mom kept coming to me with ways she could include me in the process and/or in the ownership of the book. It was her idea for me to write the forward. Amazing. It was her idea to have me MC her book launch event in front of a couple of hundred people at the Nashville Public Library back in January. Who does that? Who says, I know this whole day is about me, but hey, why don’t you take the mic first, and by the way, keep it as long as you like… I’ll be here when you are ready to give it back. What?! It was also her idea that I write this month’s newsletter as a precursor to giving me more limelight on our website, in our OYPS branding, and in the company in general. Phenomenal!

My mom is phenomenal because she guides me through the darkest caves and over the highest mountains.

I have had no shortage of challenges that felt insurmountable to me. From facing toxic and non-supportive corporate cultures to getting stuck in unhealthy relationships to struggling to find the career path that best aligns with my personal goals and desired lifestyle. From the scariest and most complex issues at work to the silly bad habits that I can’t quite kick, mom is always there to give me sound advice, make me feel in control of the situation and magically demystify other people’s nonsensical actions. Which is why I often call her “The Oracle.” Most recently she gave me dating advice, a topic for which I am notoriously defensive about, so first of all, kudos to her for even wanting to go there. She continues to tell me success stories of people she knows... who also happen to be my friends, who have found their husbands on dating apps… and while I did rejoin the world of online dating since my move to the Big Apple, I am far from caring, trying, or making any kind of real effort. I spend more time deciding which avocado to buy in the grocery store than I do actually trying to find a decent guy on a dating app. Without missing a beat, my mom says, well this great because the perfect time to use dating apps is when you don’t care about dating! It’s like going to the grocery store… you should never go when you are hungry because you will buy what you want at that moment instead of what you actually need. She continued to say she would rather see me be super picky now and get more accustom to using the apps, then see me wait until I need a date for a friend’s wedding and suddenly lower all my standards. While I immediately felt I had just been Jedi mind-tricked, I also felt like what she was saying made A LOT of sense (as most grocery analogies usually do). As of today, I have greatly improved my profile on a few different apps, actually taken the time to put in my desired parameters, and we shall see what happens. No matter what, I feel more positive about my dating prospects in the Big Apple. My mom has never even seen a dating app and calls most of them by the wrong name… “bumblebee” versus Bumble... and yet she just convinced me to make a serious effort after months of not caring. Phenomenal!

My mom is phenomenal and hands-down the best mom anyone could have! She is the best mom because of her love, care, guidance, generosity, and her willingness to do the hard work of raising a strong-willed daughter. She is my best friend because she is so much fun to be around. She is fun to cook with, drink with, gossip with, laugh with, travel with, dance with, and tell jokes with. She is phenomenal! Happy Mother’s Day mom!!! I love you!!!