It’s been another long day and I can hear the chaos occurring in the other room as those little girls of mine are
winding down gearing up for bedtime. I’m exhausted, mentally and physically as I slowly walk into their room to say our prayers and kiss them goodnight. As I tuck them in, they ask me for one more bedtime story, which I happily read to them. They begin to tell me stories about their days, and I listen intently. It’s now 30 minutes past their bedtime and they ask for me to lay with them; and, I do. I lay with them until they are sound asleep, then sneak out of their room to begin all of the tasks that still need to be finished around the house and for work/school the next day. By the time it’s all finished, I don’t have an ounce of energy left. But I don’t need to tell you that… you understand. You’ve been there.
When I became a parent, so much of my childhood slapped me in the face, sometimes lovingly and sometimes with a bit of vigor. Yet, my loving relationship with you as I became a mother myself showed me one thing that became evidentally clear: I understand so much more on a greater level, and it’s combined with equal amounts of empathy and deep gratitude (and maybe a “told you so” or two that I’m sure you quietly say in your head).
As life continues to happen in motherhood, there are so many things I have come to my realization that I would like to partly apologize to you for and partly give you a giant hug of a newfound mutual understanding and deep thankfulness for, too. I now know what hard work and sacrifices it takes to provide the “best” for your children.
Now that I’m a mom, I’ve learned that giving the “best” to your children is a lot more about showing up than anything else.
However, I’ve also learned that sometimes a mother working hard to provide for her family will sometimes have to miss some things, too. And that’s okay. I get it now, Mom.
I get that “showing up” can come in many varieties. It doesn’t have to be literal. It’s about showing up when you are exhaused and tired and scared and angry and stressed. It’s about keeping those “secrets” from your children, so they don’t know you are all of those things, sometimes occurring all at once. It’s about taking deep breaths, putting a smile on your face and a kiss on the heads of your precious babies, ensuring them that their bad day won’t last, while simultaneously telling yourself the same thing.
I now see that, as a child, my expectations of you weren’t realistic. I expected you to have the patience of Job and not get tired or weary or upset when we pushed your buttons. I expected you to be perfect instead of human, and now I know; now I get it.
You were perfect; you are perfect.
We never wanted for anything while growing up. That isn’t to say that we were “entitled” or “spoiled,” but rather so deeply cared about that both you and dad worked so hard to be able to provide everything we needed; and maybe many things we also wanted in some cases. You taught us the importance of deep values, appreciation and what it means to be the best version of ourselves along the way.
I don’t judge a single decision that you made, or a single thing you said. I understand. I get it.
I understand what you sacrificed. I look back and see how it must have been hard to go through much of motherhood on your own a lot of the time, missing the helping hands of dad while he also provided for our family as a pilot; having to also miss out on a lot while flying around the world at the hands of a schedule that didn’t consider our big moments or holidays or sports games or school events or everyday decisions that you had to often times wrestle on your own. I see how you showed up, juggling multiple roles.
I imagine how you must have felt the first time you held us in your arms. How your once black and white world must have been turned into such bright color.
I imagine the tears you must have cried along the way, that I will never know about.
Yet, along the way, everything felt stable because of you. “Don’t worry about it. It will be fine. You are fine; we are fine,” you would say. Now I know that you said that, even when you didn’t quite believe it. Even when you were scared.
You showed up. Again and again and again.
You came and tucked me in and read me books when you were weary to the core. You fought your hardest to get it right and I’m sure you beat yourself up when you thought you were getting it all wrong. But you didn’t get it wrong at all.
Thank you, Mom.
You did an incredible job.
I understand, and I get it now.
You are perfect, even when you weren’t. That is perfection.
I know my girls won’t understand half of the decisions I make on behalf of them. I know they will be frustrated and confused. I know there will be times that they feel I let them down, and that’s okay. I haven’t been perfect, I am not perfect and I will never be perfect. But I will keep showing up… again and again and again. Everyday.
Just like you did, and still do, for me.
You taught me how to be a mother, an incredible mother.
Thank you, Mom.