Thank you. From the bottom of my heart and soul and all that I am and ever will be. Thank you.
Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, and I wish I could be with you.
You see, I haven’t always appreciated you in the way that I should. I’m not just talking about the “terrible teen” years – I’m also talking about in my adult life – I haven’t always appreciated you the way I should.
It wasn’t until I had my own child that I began to understand why there is a Mother’s Day – but more importantly, why I should be eternally grateful for all you have done for me.
And it wasn’t until the toddler years began with Harrison that I truly started to grasp the significance of a phenomenal mother in one’s life.
But, now I do. I get it now.
I understand how much you sacrificed for me when I was a baby and toddler and even beyond. I understand how tired you were day after day, night after night – but how you put a smile on your face when you walked into my room to pick me up and console my tears – you did it because your love for me was instinctual, deep, unconditional, and raw to the core.
I understand now how much you sacrificed not only sleep, but your own self – how much you changed when you first found out you were pregnant with me – and how you welcomed those changes with open arms. I realize now how much you gave up just to be a good mother to me.
You had a phenomenal career as a nurse (it leaves me teary eyed to think of how hard working you always were, and how good you were to your patients and co-workers) but I am sure there are other dreams you had that you put on the sidelines while I was little – never to explore again because, well, time.
I understand now how much you longed for human interaction during those days you were at home with me – but how you would take one look at me and know that you had all the human interaction you needed, and were thankful for me.
I understand now how much your relationship with Dad changed the second I came into the world – and how many nights you’d lie in bed wondering if it would ever be the same again. I know now that you know – it won’t – because, life.
I appreciate all the dinners you made when the last thing you wanted to do was cook. Those are the dinners of love. I get that now.
I appreciate all the times you stopped what you were doing to look at the insignificant thing I wanted to show you – only to realize now how significant that moment was.
I appreciate all the calculations you have calculated in your head through the years:
- what size clothes will she wear next and can I find them on clearance anywhere now?
- how much longer will she fit into this pair of shoes and do we have the next size already or do I need to go buy some?
- how many hours of sleep does she need at night versus how many does she need during the day and is her bedtime too late or is it too early and how do I know for sure?
- is she getting enough nutritional foods or am I being too strict and not letting her live enough and maybe I should start letting her have cookies more often?
- how much should I console her when she falls down and scrapes her knee? I don’t want her to be too “babyish” forever but I also want her to know that mommy is always here for her…
…and the list goes on and on. All the calculations, all the questions, all the second-guessing, all the worries, all the nightmares, I understand it now. Fully and completely.
I appreciated you when I was a small child (from what I can remember) – I appreciated that you wrote me cute little notes and placed them in my lunchbox. I appreciated that you washed and dried the clothes I wanted to wear to school the next day when it was late at night and you had been working all day (even when they didn’t need them to be washed). I appreciated that you showed up to everything – my plays, my concerts, my recitals, my softball games, my graduation – all of it. You always showed up and I always appreciated it. I appreciated that you sent me care packages when I attempted college for the first time (and I appreciate that you still root me on as I finish grad school some 18 years after my first college class). I appreciated that you appreciated my need to find myself in my early 20s – and that you were always close enough if I needed you, but far enough to let me feel free. I appreciated you when you stood by my decision to join the Navy – realizing that you didn’t know the exact time you’d see your daughter again – and I appreciate you doing it with a smile on your face, even if you were wiping back tears. I appreciated that you always knew where I was stationed, what my job was, who my co-workers were, what big tests I had coming up, and when I was eligible for advancement. I appreciated that you always strived to know more about the Navy, so that you would know more about my life. I appreciated that you stood by me during my divorce, not judging me – just being there for me as I needed you to be. I appreciated that you always visited me – wherever I lived – and that you always had something small (but meaningful) to bring to my apartment. I appreciated that you cried with me when I wondered if I would ever find “the one” or if I would ever have children of my own. I appreciated you being excited for me when I did finally find “the one” and going on to ask so many questions about him so you could know him, too. I appreciated that you supported our new family from afar, sending cards for my stepson’s birthdays, homemade Chex Mix during Christmas. I appreciated that you were so excited when I found out I was pregnant – and that you wanted to know every single detail (just as much as I wanted to share them all with you). I appreciated that you stood by the phone the night I went into labor, and didn’t sleep until I safely delivered my baby boy. I appreciated that you loved him more than I think you love me (just kidding) and that you treat him like the sweet angel he is – and just as my Nana treated me.
But Mom, as much as I appreciated everything you had ever done for me up until the day I had my son, and even up until the toddler years, I just couldn’t quite appreciate you fully until I began living the life that you lived not so long ago. The life of a mother. The life of a good mother.
You see, being a mom is easy. You just have to make sure your child is healthy and safe. That’s it. But being a good mom – that’s different.
Being a good mom means you will doubt yourself and your decisions until the end of time, always wondering if you made the right choices.
Being a good mom means you will worry about your children until your dying breath – are they eating and sleeping enough? Are they running too fast to the point where they may fall down? Are they driving too fast? Are they drinking too much? Are they being safe with their partner? Are they being kind to their spouse? Is their spouse being kind to them? Are they being safe with my grandchildren?
The worry never ends when you are a good mom.
When you are a good mom, that means that at some point in your life, you made the decision (whether consciously or not) to give up almost all of who you are and to instead take in every ounce of your child – their thoughts, their fears, their highs, their lows, their worries, their accomplishments – all of it. You decided to take it in and never look back.
You decided that life is greater when your child is whole and happy and well-cared-for. You decided that. No one made you. It was a goodness in your heart that shone through the day you made that decision – and that light shines through every single hour of every single day of every single week of every single year.
That light is the one that I, as a mother myself now, can recognize in other women. Not all women have it, unfortunately…but the ones that do – you cannot unsee their light. It is blatantly obvious when you first realize what it looks like. It’s a little shimmer in their eyes – a slight sound in their voice – a soft touch of their hand – it’s very subtle – but it’s there. I saw it in Nana, and I see it in you.
Mom, I am so thankful for you. So very thankful. I am thankful that you decided to be one of the good ones.
Because you made that decision – whenever you did – I now have the chance to be one of the good ones, too – which only means that Harrison has the chance to be one of the good ones – and because of that, my life is complete.
You completed it, Mom. You did.
Your light did.
Your goodness did.
I will never go another day in my life without gratitude for you in my heart and in my soul and in every ounce of my being.
Thank you, Mom. Thank you for everything.
I love you. Happy Mother’s Day.