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Lyla Gleason

The writer with her daughter Giselle and mother Myra Naseem during a recent vacation to Disney World. Photo from Lyla Gleason

By Lyla Gleason

I’m turning into my mom, and that’s a good thing.

With nearly a decade of motherhood under my belt, it still surprises me that I sometimes feel like a newbie. I mean, motherhood is a large part instinct, a bit of luck and a whole lot of on-the-job experience, but without employer feedback and promotions, it can be tough to know how you’re doing. Raising a small human is definitely challenging, but luckily for me, I have the support of friends and family who cheer me on at every turn.

Now that the terrible toddler years have long passed, and the dramatic tween time is upon me, I find myself thinking more and more about my school years, and I’m seeing my mom in a new light. How did she manage two kids when I am exhausted with just one? How could she pack our lunches every day without the slightest hint of annoyance? How could she cook every night? Every night! OMG!

I’m sure this is true of every generation, but I’ve developed a newfound appreciation for my mom, Myra Naseem, and all that she managed to juggle as I was growing up. As a single mom raising two girls in the 1970s and ʼ80s, the odds were definitely stacked against her, but I had no idea. Our lives were full of kid-focused activities and outings, baked treats and visits with friends and family near and far.

When my mom tired of her home economics teaching job and decided to start her own catering business out of our kitchen, my sister, Kaneez, and I got to watch her leadership skills develop right before our eyes. She treated her employees as family and spent so much time explaining the right way to do things, just as she had with us. She was still teaching, explaining to “hold it from the bottom,” but in a mom-boss way.

As my sister and I headed off to college, my mother’s catering business Elegant Eating moved into a Stony Brook storefront, and my mom and her business partner Neil were well on their way to becoming known throughout Suffolk County. Business flourished, parties grew larger, and they moved into a bigger space with room for cooking classes and luncheons in Smithtown. Elegant Eating has catered hundreds of parties for the local community, celebrities and politicians, and they have managed to remain on top of the trends in this challenging business.

Over the past thirty years, I’ve watched my mom successfully raise her business and enjoy her newest job as Mama Myra, grandmother to Giselle. I am happy for her accomplishments, but best of all, I’m happy that I can now appreciate all her mom-boss tools that I’ve inherited.

I may not see the physical resemblance everyone else notices, but I do see our similarities more and more, and I’m cool with that. My mom’s patience, flexibility, understanding, ability to put others first and determination have helped me become the person I am today, and hopefully, I’ll be able to pass these qualities along to my daughter.

Lyla Gleason is the founder of the blog Globetrotting Mommy.

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