I wanted to let you know how much I love you and appreciate having you as my mother. This is especially important today because- well- your Mother’s Day card is going to be late. (I’m sure you’re shocked by this.) Please know that this is not a reflection of my feelings for you, but rather a reflection of me not having any stamps. Ever.
I wish I had inherited your organizational skills. I also wish I were one of those people who are grateful for what they have in the present. But it turns out that hindsight is one of my greatest strengths. So, before I recount the many gifts you have given me, let me first give you a big,
“I’m sorry. You were right about (almost) everything.”
I hope this simple sentiment will make up for my teenage years, but if it doesn’t, I can delete the “almost” and take you to Joe Fazio’s when next you visit; certainly that should cover it.
All kidding aside, I hope you know how grateful I am to have grown up having you for a mom. I’ve come to realize that parenting is one of those jobs that looks easier than it is, which is saying a lot since it actually looks pretty hard. I can’t thank you enough for having stuck it out, not only through my childhood, but for all those years later with my talented brother and my amazing sister! (Geez, you’ve been parenting for foreverand you still look fantastic; here’s hoping I’m on the receiving end of those genes!)
I have to admit, though, the things you taught me by telling me weren’t the lessons that took hold immediately. I remember you teaching me to balance a checkbook, for instance, and it took me years to do that successfully. You told me not to get so serious about boys, but I have yet to go very long without a capital-B Boyfriend. You told me to go to college and get my degree, which I misheard as “go to Los Angeles and get a tan”. You get the picture: I didn’t always listen well to what you said. But, now I’m realizing all the things I learned by watching what you did.
By watching you, I learned that friendliness is generous: that by greeting people with a smile and a friendly word, you put them at ease and make their lives a little brighter. Your smile still lights up the room! (Also, on the topic of smiles: thank you for my braces.)
Your friendliness is obvious, but what I find especially disarming is your wicked sense of humor. I’m not sure if it’s genetic (your brothers seem to have it) or learned, but I definitely inherited it somehow and I’m so, so thankful. I never realized what a gift a sense of humor is until I met people that didn’t seem to have one: you know- meter maids, tax collectors, Republicans… (Just kidding, Republicans; I totally got your Sarah Palin joke!) Yes, I see now, that a sense of humor is a lifesaver; I think yours is probably what got you through my adolescence. I’m hoping I can rely on mine in a few years.
Another thing I’ve learned from you is that, if everything else fails you, Motown and Anne Murray will always be life-affirming. It’s because of you that I can sing every Supremes song, and pretend that I am not only Diana Ross, but Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson, too. (I’m talking gestures and everything.) And, I will never forget the way you serenaded my wonderful stepdad at your wedding with “Can I Have This Dance for the Rest of My Life?” I know I bring that up a lot, but seriously, I thought it was awesome. You think I’m teasing you, but I’m not. Stuff like that is what taught me about being unafraid. It’s why I can go and read aloud at the kids’ school; why I’m not afraid to be open on my blog; why I can converse with almost anyone; and why I am not afraid to be who I am. I learned, by watching you sing and dance and have fun, that I can be bold and my life will be better for it. Hopefully, my kids are learning, too. Genevieve has created a dance called the “Mom’s Most Embarrassing Moves” dance and she’s really good at it!
Lastly, Mom, I want to tell you how strong I think you are and let you know that I am strong, too. All those years when it was just the two of us, I saw you struggle to get everything done: to be a good parent, a good employee, a good daughter, a good sister and still have something leftover for you. Looking back, I don’t know how you did it all! Even when things got to be overwhelming for you, you’d cry a little, and then move on with generally unflagging optimism. From the time you were the only girl in a family of six children, you have been taking care of others, worrying about others, and thinking about yourself last- just like your own mother. Thank you for taking care of me, my brother and sister, our home, your job, your health, your brothers when they’ve needed you, Aunt Margie, your Dad, and your beautiful, sweetheart of a mom, Virginia. A lot of the words that I would use to describe you (soft-hearted, sensitive, warm) don’t let on that you are also an absolute rock for the rest of us!
I love you and appreciate everything you’ve done for me, especially this past year, as I became what you once were- a single mom. You heard me whining that I needed more: “support me, comfort me, help me.” And, you did what you always do: gave more.
Happy Mother’s Day,
(This blog was originally published on the Charleston Daily Mail’s Mommyhood blog.)