For all the times you woke up early to make sure we had a good breakfast before school or activities, I get it now. You packed our lunches and had snacks and dinner ready when we got home. You wanted us well fed and nourished to be the best we could be that day.
For all the times I complained about what you faithfully made for us – good delicious healthy food – I am sorry. We were incredibly lucky to have home cooked meals every single day of our lives. I can barely get one healthy fully cooked meal on the table, let alone three.
For all the times you made stovetop popcorn, thank you. It’s one of the happiest places in my life, that popcorn I continue to make several times a week.
For all the times you made us help set the table and then clear the table, to dust the damn glass tables or vacuum or make our beds (WHY WHEN WE MESS IT UP EVERY NIGHT), I get it now. You wanted to teach us responsibility. To be a part of the family. And there is an awful lot to be said for making your bed and cleaning your room. I get it now. Life somehow seems more manageable when you have a somewhat tidy, organized home. Thank you.
For all the times I complained and acted put upon and spoiled, I am sorry.
For all the times you got mad or lost your temper, which weren’t many that I remember because you kept yourself in check most times, I get it now. MAN, DO I GET IT NOW. Never in my life have I wanted to hug and throttle someone at the same time until having children.
For all the times I’ve already lost my temper and had to walk away – two really big ones – I think of you and how you did it. How do you not just lose your shit in front of your children? Discipline and disappointment. Two of my least favorite “d” words. Turning those moments into love fueled teachable moments is my goal and I am already failing at times. But the good news is, we get to keep trying because our kids will constantly test us. And I do handle most situations with grace and humor and calmness. I’ve learned some things.
For all the times you couldn’t lift the groceries out of the car or carry heavy things up the stairs and we did it for you, BEGRUDGINGLY most times because we acted like entitled jerks sometimes, oh lady do I get it now. MY BACK HURTS.
For all the times I groan and moan already at having to carry heavy things up the stairs, namely two 4-year-olds, but I do it through the pain because one day they will be doing the heavy lifting and I will look back on when they were little enough for me to carry and have no regrets. I will bend down and kiss them goodnight or pick them up as long as I possibly can. Through the back pain. Andy and I ruined your back. I’m sorry.
For all the nights – and there were many – that you were on your own with two children while your husband was away on work trips providing for our very well cared for family, I applaud you. You did this week after week, year after year, alone for many days and nights and you never complained about it. I complain when my husband is gone for a weekend. Hell, one night. You are a staunch character.
For all the times you would come in my room and talk about whatever was on my mind and just listen to whatever I would tell you. You were just looking for clues, for reasons for behavior or not doing as well in school as I could, for answers. You wanted to hear who was doing what and the types of kids I was hanging out with and how they treated people. You wanted me to be around kind, good kids. You wanted me to be a kind, good kid.
I am pretty confident in saying I am a good kind kid these days. 42 years later, but still. In all seriousness, I hope I was kind to kids growing up. I think if you were to ask people I grew up with, they would say I was kind. To everybody.
For all the times I didn’t let you in, I am sorry. I could’ve given you so much more and I know you were awake at night worrying and thinking about what was really happening.
For all the times you made lists, and there were ALWAYS LISTS, I am thankful. The groceries, the library, the to-dos, the vacation packing lists, the college packing lists, the camp packing lists. The days before the internet told you everything you would need, you figured it out and made sure we had everything we could possibly need and more.
For all the risks you took and all the strength you summoned to fight for what you believed in and what was right, I get it now. You were standing up for kids and more importantly for yourself.
For all the times you cared for your elders. Your father and mother, your brother, your mother-in-law, everyone felt your love and protection to the best of your abilities and you did it all without being asked and without many thanks because it’s the right thing to do. You have done it from afar and up close and way too personal. Your level of caretaking is profound. It courses through your veins in a beautifully transparent way. But you’ve also learned when to step away. When enough is enough. Loving from afar is an incredibly beneficial life skill.
For all the times you didn’t say negative things about other moms. Other kids. Other families. For all the times you encouraged kindness and helpfulness over trying to be cool or popular. For all the times you lived and continue to live as a Godly woman would live. Loving all regardless of color, creed, affiliation or sexual preference. We may not have the same views on God or religion, but we have come to mutual respect and don’t have to fight to make one another feel badly. We are who we are and it is good.
For all the times I absolutely didn’t agree with you and thought you were the worst mom ever, I am sorry. I know that you did everything you thought best because of us. I know that even when it was really hard and would have been the easier softer way to give in and let us have our way, you didn’t because we needed to learn something. I thank you for being steadfast.
For all the times you’ve forgiven.
For all the times you’ve held your tongue.
For all the times you’ve roared.
For all the times you’ve laughed at my jokes and insights and goofy things I do simply to make you laugh and then you laughed? Thank you.
For all the times you were scared out of your mind and yet you prayed and did what needed to be done acting as if.
For all the times you were disappointed in the way your children behaved and yet you loved. You just loved.
For all the times you were so very proud – ARE so very proud – of your children and you just beam.
Thank you. I get it now.
For all the self care you’ve provided yourself with as you’ve aged. You’ve aged well because you’ve lived well. You’ve worked so hard for so long and now you pamper a bit. You didn’t do much for yourself for a lot of years and now, well, now you treat yourself with all the kindness you’ve treated others with for so many years. It’s lovely to see. And so important.
For all the time and energy you devote to other kids through your teaching, when you said you WANTED TO WORK as we got older, through your prayers, through your kindness, I thank you. If my kid were lost and hurting, I would want you in her corner. I would want you in his corner to comfort and shield, to make something comforting to eat, to curl up on the couch with along with a cute dog and several “oh honey”s.
The best part of that story is that I was that kid who had you in her corner. Continually fighting for her and doing what was right. Never giving up but always doing what was best for her even when it was life threateningly hard. I was that kid. I am that kid. And I am eternally grateful.
I became an alcoholic. I will say again nothing you said or did had anything to do with that, and you know that today. YOU HAVE TO KNOW THAT. It would have happened no matter what. But what happened after I chose to get better? Everything good. Everything right. Everything with you. Everything with us. Being an alcoholic is truly the best thing that could’ve happened to me. It gave me this life I have today. Forgiveness heals.
For all the times you’ve already deferred to me as the best possible mother to my kids. Not telling me what to do or how I should or shouldn’t do things, but just letting me mother in my own way. For continually telling me what a great job I’m doing exactly as I am and for letting me know that this is hard and we are doing just fine. For letting me tell you things about mothering that I don’t tell anyone else. Pieces of your mothering are sprinkled everywhere. The very best parts. They are here.
Manners, compassion, confidence, empathy and kindness. These things you taught me because they don’t always come naturally. In fact, many never learn them, maybe because they were never taught. Maybe their lives took turns we have no clue about and they lost where they came from. I am forever grateful and will do my best to instill in my children all you tried to instill in us. You’ve loved fiercely and well. You’ve given yourself completely to your family. You’ve done more in one lifetime and achieved more greatness than any history book will ever reflect. You’ve succeeded in so many ways that are unquantifiable. I’ll never be able to adequately thank you. I’ll only be able to say, all I am and all I have, it started and ends with you.
I learned more from you than you ever thought you were teaching me. And in ways you certainly never intended. I broke your heart. I’ve worked to mend it. I carry you with me every day I get to be a mother to these two grandchildren of yours. They are the most incredible thing that’s ever happened ever. And I get to be a mom. I get to be THEIR mom. So yes, it’s true and it’s taken me this long to say, I GET IT NOW. Time is perfect. Life evolves exactly as it should and we are exactly where we need to be. I get it now. We are so incredibly lucky to be moms.
I love you, mama.
See also – Important Things from a Mom to her Children (a guest post from my little mama)