This was a fact I often forgot when my mother was overly protective or when the punishment was too harsh for the crime or when I wanted a hug and instead got advice. It was hard for me to remember that my mom didn't really have a mom and that she was doing this whole mothering thing without even the thinnest semblance of a roadmap.
My mother's not perfect, and neither is yours. But goddamn, did my mom do a good job. I can quickly tell you about the times she disappointed me, but overall, my mother busted her ass at being a mom, and she did the very best she could. Just thinking about how much effort and sweat and tears and sleepless nights she put into figuring out how to best care for my sister and me puts a lump in my throat the size of boulder.
My mom was 24 when I was born. 24! I was 24 an entire decade ago, which means at my age my mother had a ten year old daughter (and another kid, to boot!). I try to imagine having a ten year old child, and I simply can't do it. I can't fathom being solely responsible for another human being.
Despite divorce and financial hardships and some really nasty treatment from people who were cruel beyond all imagination, my mother perservered. She shielded my sister and me from things I'll never know the full extent of. She scratched my back to put me to sleep well into my teens. She sacrificed god-knows-what so that her girls could have. She instilled in me a love of writing by filling my head with books from the very beginning.
She is so much of who I am. I am so much of who she is.
There is nothing I can buy right now for my mother that she can't easily afford herself. Flowers seem silly. Besides, she's going to be out of town this Mother's Day. She's traveling, one of her new, later-in-life loves.
Instead I'm giving her this: a public acknowledgement. I'm giving her a piece of writing that attempts to encapsulate just how much this woman means to me. This writing will fall miserably short.
I'm thankful for so much of what my mom has given me. It would be laughable to attempt to list them here. When I think about how much I love my mom my whole chest fills up and my eyes well up and I can barely stand it.
You wouldn't know it, but my mom is an amazing writer. I still have the hand-written letter she gave me when I graduated from high school, and it is one of the most beautiful things I've ever read in my life. She may have been guarded, she may have been less affectionate than other mothers, but never, ever for a single second have I doubted her commitment to me, her unabashed devotion, her selflessness at so many turns.
My mom has no pretenses. She never puts on airs. She's an honest woman who works her fucking ass off. My mom and I are different in a million ways, but if I ever carry myself with the level of humility and absolute realness that this person who raised me does, then I'll have become a better human being.
She gave me life. She gave me crayons. She gave me baths. She gave me groundings I badly deserved. She gave me Barbies and when I asked her, "What do you do with these?," she replied honestly, "I really don't know." She gave me permission to cry in my room while I cursed her from the other side of the door. She forgave me when I mocked her elaborate Christmas morning scavenger hunt when I was 15 and an asshole.
I love this woman more than I know how to handle. I don't tell her enough.
So, happy Mother's Day to one mom, my mom. For someone who didn't have a mom of her own, she knocked that shit out of the park.