My mother is many things, but when I became a Mom myself she became so much more. Like so much of life, you never realize what something is like until you truly experience it. Motherhood was this for me; I never truly understood what an amazing mother my own was until I actually became one. Looking back to our days in that yellow house, all I have are happy memories, pleasant images of moments that now feel like a dream. All I have are good things swirling around in my head, bobbing up to the front of my mind when I reach back to retrieve them. Grass and water and the sound of the wind through those huge oak trees. Happiness. And I know how rare this is. I know how rare it is to look back and only have seen good, experienced good, and I never take a second of this for granted. My mother managed to protect me, but at the same time she let me grow. She's always let me be me, the often opinionated and outspoken daughter who is prone to emotional moments and perpetual perfectionism. The daughter who, unlike her parents, chose to express herself through tattoos, but never found any judgment in her mother's eyes. Only acceptance.
Days like Mother's Day are emotional for me because I am well aware there is an hourglass perched high on the shelf, every day running through it. And there are only so many grains of sand, moments, hours, days. And when I'm feeling especially nostalgic, it breaks my heart to feel this, to know that my Mom won't always be here for me. She is my real-life Google, the person I call to ask the questions I should know the answers to. "How long do I keep this quiche in the oven for?" "How do I remove this grass stain?" She is my sounding board, my advice-giver, my calmer-down. And she is always there, putting me first, making sure everything is okay.
From her I've learned not only what it is to be a good mother, but what it is to be a good person. It's in the way she treated Mr. Jones at her former job at Roosevelt, the kind way she approaches others when they may be less than kind, the way she speaks to Henry and the patience she has always shown with the thousands of kids she's taught over the years.
From my Mom I've learned that a horrible diagnosis doesn't mean the end of happiness and that your environment doesn't have to dictate your perspective. I've learned that we are not our skin, that we are not our worst mistake. I've learned that joy is found is the simplest of things; a piece of dark chocolate, a rerun of your favorite show, a long walk along the boardwalk. But most of all, I've learned how to see myself through her loving eyes, which has been the greatest gift of all.
So Happy (early) Mother's Day to my wonderful Mom. You are truly my inspiration. I love you...this one's for you -