Saturday, May 12, 2018

For my mother on Mother's Day

My mother is constantly doubting her skills in raising me, even though I am now 36. She wonders if she permanently damaged me by not taking my kindergarten teacher's advice to give us 3 things to remember in the morning and ask us what they were in the evening. She gives herself anxiety attacks wondering if she gave me the tools I need to properly adult. She worries about what kind of example she set for me, if she yelled too much, if she didn't yell enough, that she didn't push me hard enough in school, if she should have made me play little league, if letting me skip team sports damaged my ability to work within a team, that she worked too much, that she couldn't give me enough, that she wasn't around enough.

I, on the other hand, never think about any of that. When I look back at growing up with my mom I remember things like road trips to see friends in other states with just the two of us singing along to the Allman Brothers and Janis Joplin, the amazing and elaborate birthday parties she threw for me with cupcake rainbows and jello fluff, that time she gave me and two friends giant mixing bowls and everything that was nearing expiration in her kitchen and told us to go to town in the backyard (which smelled like dill for like a year). I remember a woman who worked multiple jobs but still found time to snuggle me and read to me, who made sure that she and my dad divorced amicably so that I would never deal with the trauma that a child of divorce often faces, and to not only be amicable but to show me that although it may evolve love never dies. I remember amazing Christmases, and incredible last minute homemade Halloween costumes, and Easters full of daffodils and pretty dresses and warm sun on blue vinyl backseats, and endless rounds of Frere Jacques. I remember trips to the farm with early morning stops for McDonald's breakfast. I remember ants marching and boughs breaking, and women roaring. I remember the panicked look on her face while I was learning to drive, the pride on her face when I became the first person to graduate from college in her family, the excitement and love the day I got married.

I haven't always been the best daughter but through all the bad boyfriends, bratty and inconsiderate behavior, tattoos and piercings, anxiety, depression, debt, and ages 13-17, my mom never faltered in her love for me. Even when I gave her ample excuses to hate me.

My mom is amazing. What other crazy woman would take 5 thirteen year olds to Hershey PA for a concert and share a small cabin with them? Or pick up her underage drunk kid and two of her friends and put up with the ridiculous excuses? Or stand in the front yard and scream at a nasty neighbor lady who was talking shit about me? Or get in my ex-boyfriend's face and tell him that if he ever hurt me she would kill him and truly mean it? Or find some way to defend me even when I was the perpetrator of a (very clever) prank? Or take her kid with her to protest the local St Patrick's Day parade when they wouldn't let the pro-choice group march? Or do all the work of planning a destination wedding so that I wouldn't associate the happiest day of my life with stress?

My mom taught me that you can think whatever you want but once something is said you can't ever take it back. She taught me that getting away with lies only makes you a good liar. She taught me that a woman should own tools and know how to use them. She taught me that you don't need make up to be beautiful, that you don't need alcohol to have fun, that you don't need a man to complete you. She taught me that kindness matters, that apathy is useless, and that family is what you make it. She showed me that your past doesn't determine your future, forgiving is not forgetting, and that people are who they show you they are. She taught me to knit, to crochet, to sew, to stand up for myself and for other people, to not back down when I'm right and also not to be a dick about it. She taught me how to be a good driver, to take pride in even the shittiest of jobs, and to be polite to everyone.

I do not have the words to describe how lucky I am to have my mom so I will simply say thank you. Thank you for being you and for making me who I am.