A Thank You Letter to My Mom

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This Sunday marks my sixth Mother’s Day without my Mom. Last year, I made a conscious decision not to write a Mother’s Day post, I didn’t want to bum people out or seem too self-indulgent. This year, however, I find myself in a different position and feel compelled to express, publicly, the sincere gratitude I have for my mom as I start my own journey into parenthood.

For the past several years, Mother’s Day has been a pretty dark day. I try to keep myself occupied and distracted and not notice the seemingly incessant ads that run leading up to the day (although I’ve told my husband, I’d rather get nothing at all than one of those janky looking charm bracelets from Kay or Jared. I never want to hear our child say “We went to Jared.”) or the happy gaggles of mothers, children, and grandmothers milling about town that day.

Although I still miss my mom every day, this year Mother’s Day takes on a new meaning for me. On Sunday, I will not only remember and celebrate my own mom (and celebrate my mother-in-law), but I will also celebrate my 20th week of pregnancy and the fact that next year, I’ll will be a mother.

Despite the overwhelming joy I feel about becoming a mother (finally!), it has been marked by periods of profound sadness. You see, I underestimated the hardship of becoming a mother without a mother. And not just without any mother, but without my mom. I was always extremely grateful and understood how fortunate I was to have such an unbelievably kind, thoughtful, supportive, and unconditionally loving mom. Yet, now that I am on the precipice of becoming a mom myself, my perspective of my mom has changed and my gratitude has become more pronounced.

I always knew (or thought I knew) how much my mom loved me. Turns out, I hadn’t the slightest clue of the depths of her love and attachment. I didn’t fully understand her desire to protect me, provide the best for me, and defend me. Now, I am starting to comprehend the love of a mother. Although I have yet to meet our child, the love I feel for this tiny human is overwhelming, even scary at times. As my belly swells and the tap, tap, taps coming from within grow stronger, my love increases exponentially.

I cannot bear the thought of someone making my child sad or left out. I cannot imagine someone breaking my baby’s heart or causing extreme disappointment. But, it will happen because life happens. I cannot protect my child from every discomfort and heartache, and I can’t kill the people who inflict it. So, I guess I’ll have to learn to deal with it, somehow. It is this feeling that helps me understand my mom in a way I never could before. At the time, I could never fully comprehend how much I was loved. As I begin to assume the role of mom I am in awe and so thankful to have been loved so intensely.

I am also beginning to understand what a daunting task parenting is. For the past several months, and even years before, I often grappled with the question: “How will I be as good of a mom as she was to me?” I used to ask my mom that as well and she always said “You will.”

The relationship she cultivated between us is truly inspiring. I’m not just saying that because I was part of it, even outsiders would comment on our love, respect, and mutual admiration for one another. She was always a mom first, but somehow managed to be my best-friend, my confidant, and an opinion I sought out and respected. And, the fact that she managed to do this starting out as a 15-year-old is that much more awe-inspiring and intimidating.

For months now, I’ve thought about how she did this, how did she establish and maintain such an incredible relationship with me? Finally, a few days ago, the answer came to me: She did it by being herself.

She did it by being open and honest. By being funny and fierce. She did it by balancing selflessness and selfishness. Juggling work and family. She did by prioritizing her marriage. She did it by fostering independence. By not letting me get away with shit and by loving me in spite of the shit.

She did it by doing what she knew how to do best: be herself. She was one of the most authentic people I knew. She was unabashed about who she was, and she had every right to be because she was amazing.

By realizing this, I know that I have all I need inside of me to become a great mother because I am my mother’s daughter. She’s in my laughter, in the way I love (and dislike) fiercely, in the way I’d defend a loved one to the death, in the way I try to make a house a home, in the way I love others, in the way I am content with myself, and most importantly in the way I love this new life inside of me.

Although it breaks my heart that my child will never meet my mom, I am confident that my baby will know her because she is so tightly woven into the fabric of who I am. This is a gift so great that a simple “thank you” seems to undermine the depths of my appreciation, but I know no other way to express my gratitude for the gift of my mom’s unconditional love and how through that she prepared me so well to love my own child.

So, on this sixth Mother’s Day without you, Mom, I want to say thank you. Thank you for giving me one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received—your love. I am humbled by your generosity and the good fortune I have of sharing your love, my love, our love with our newest family member.

We love you to the moon, back, and all around.

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