You always tell the story of when I was misbehaving in the bathtub as a toddler. As a first time mother and frustrated, you lightly spanked me and naturally, I cried. Due to the water, a red handprint – your red handprint – stayed firmly visible on my tiny bare white butt cheek. Upset about leaving a mark on me, you began to cry as well. Of course I was fine, and soon I began comforting you instead. “It’s OK, mommy,” I said as I patted your back. “It’s OK.”
This is one of the many lessons you learned while raising me. And as I try to reminisce and remember more specific stories, I find it’s hard to do. Not because there aren’t any, but because there are so many. Every day, for every homework assignment, every hair emergency, every dinner, and every soccer game, you were always there.
Sure, we may have butted heads over the years – OK, we butted heads a lot – and sometimes you push me to my wit’s end, still, but these disagreements created the lessons we both learned from, together.
You see, I’ve found it’s a push and pull with mothers and daughters. We’re often each other’s biggest fan and biggest annoyance. That’s just how it works. It’s a special relationship and one that I’m truly grateful to have. In fact, it’s even one I’ve begun to look at from a new perspective as I’ve grown into an adult myself.
At one point when I was younger, I actually believed you knew everything. Mostly, because you did. But my eyes opened for the first time when you didn’t have the answer to one of my life questions while in college.
“What do you mean you don’t know?” I said. “I’ve never had to do this before,” you told me. It was then I realized that you were just like me – not a mystical being with superpowers, but an adult just trying to get by like everyone else. We were becoming equals, and it felt weird.
Nevertheless, as I continue to deal with new and tough experiences on my own, it’s times like those that allow me to appreciate you even more. All of your advice and wisdom drilled into my head over the years finally comes into play when you’re not around. In those moments I grasp not only how much I value your input, but how well I’ve been able to put everything you’ve taught me to use – including to trust my instincts when I don’t know the answer, either.
I will say, it was a lot of tough love. There were many times I was not very happy with you. For reference, I never wanted to do my own laundry or pay for my own gas at $4.00 a gallon. But I did it anyway, and when my other friends ended up with shrunken, pink clothes, I did not. You taught me the value in educating myself and working for what I want by being a role model I could look up to. You taught me to be strong-willed and caring; independent yet vulnerable. You taught me to pursue what I love and who I love, because being genuine is what’s most important in life.
Even when I “hated” you at 15 years old, thank you for being a mother first and a friend second. Thank you for being the first person I want to talk to when something amazing or horrible happens – when I need to rant, bawl my eyes out or just share a funny story. Thank you for being a good human being with a kind heart. This, I’ve learned, is an amazing trait to have in a mother. And of course, thank you for all of the things I can never verbalize. I appreciate you more than you’ll ever know. Happy Mother’s Day!