I thought writing this would be easy. So easy that I planned to bang it out in a morning and then bask in your love. After all, there hasn’t been one day in the past seven-and-a-half years where I haven’t found something new about who you are, or what you sacrificed during my tenure as your child, to be grateful for (though you probably wouldn’t know by the frequency of my calls). And yet this is the third morning I’ve sat at my computer, struggling to think of how to thank you.
At first I thought I’d be sarcastic, thanking you for locking me out of the house in the summer afternoons, forcing me to “play” in the great wilderness of Jersey suburbia, trying to change me into some athletic kid. It took having a child to recognize that you weren’t trying to change me, you were trying to get away from me. I never understood why you couldn’t hear me from the kitchen window, whining to be let back in like some feral cat, as the egg timer tick down one hour. I totally get it now. You could hear me, but your ears blocked out the frequency of my whines, which is probably why your ears ring now. Even though I haven’t lived at home for almost 12 years, they were so scared by my promises to behave that they don’t trust that I’m not still in the front yard, under the windowsill, waiting for them to let down their guard.
I also understand why you were happy to listen to kids’ music as long as we were, and why you didn’t want me watching Madonna videos. Now that I actually understand what (most of) her lyrics/intentions were, I would’ve fainted if my 8YO came home from her BFF’s house, singing “Papa Don’t Preach.” Though BTW, I always thought she was singing about wanting to keep a boyfriend her dad didn’t like. Because obviously girls with really short hair picked bad boyfriends.
Which was why, since my hair was at least shoulder-length and yours was short, I figured my first boyfriend was fine; you were the one who wasn’t. I’m happy to report that I’m now as appalled with myself–if not more than you were–at my choice of him in every single regard. If one of my girls brought him home, I’d have daily anxiety attacks, in addition to the nightmares I’m sure you must have endured. Least of all to say, I understand why you were furious about me pretty much assisting him in stealing the brand new bike I’d begged months for. (Though I’m really not sure why I didn’t understand that 2o years ago as I gave him the key to the horseshoe lock that was installed to keep him from stealing it.) Thank you for still talking to me after that. It couldn’t have been easy.
And thank you for always letting me in your room to “chat” moments after you closed your door to do homework. Even though you must’ve been horrified by what came out of my mouth most of the time, you let me keep talking. You had a great poker face. I’m working on mine.
Thank you for letting me stall before bed. Because you did, I now know that some of the sweetest, most revealing things about my kids will surface when they’re trying to put off sleep. I would’ve missed that had I not cherished so many memories of your nails tracing intricate designs on my back as I drifted off.
Thank you for not laughing in my face when I pretty gave birth to myself (and thank you for not withholding advice and making me beg for it. I totally would’ve.)
Thank you for nodding compassionately when my ears started ringing two Julys ago and never stopped. You could’ve smiled, or choked on a laugh, and I would’ve understood. But you didn’t.
Thank you for continusously inviting me home to visit when that usually means I’ll drop my kids and run for a day or two, fleeing the house with the kind of vigor that would’ve made you proud had I done it as a child.
Thank you for never giving up on me. I didn’t have to have kids to know that you believed in me. I’ve always known it was true. But now that I have kids I understand the power I held over your heart, how many times I must’ve broken it, and how hard it must have sometimes been to keep believing. Which makes your faith and love that much more valuable. Because to love a kid like me before I grew out of (most of my) mortifying, spiteful, and somewhat dangerous behavior? That takes a woman ten times what I can even fathom at this point in my life.
Though since I’m slowing turning into you in most other regards, I’ll probably get some of that too. And I’m lucky. There’s no one else I’d want to be just like.
I love you,
• • •
Have anything you’d like to thank your mom for? Anything you’d like tell her, or you wish you’d had the chance to say? I would love to post it here. Hit me up at ck (at) badmommymoments (dot) com
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