Every time I have sat down to write this post I have written a few sentences, deleted them, and then started again. It should be simple, writing a ‘thank-you’ letter to your mom, and in many ways it is; I have lots that I am thankful for. But for me, it is difficult because my mom has been gone 14 years this summer. I have lived exactly half my life without her. When I say it out loud, it makes me really sad.
Today, my daughter is 6 months old. She has made it through the very first half year of her life. This may not seem significant to many people but to me, it feels surreal. It’s surreal that she has been outside of my womb for that long. It is surreal to me that she is eating solid food, rolling, trying to talk, recognizing faces, and most of all, she looks at me like I am the sun and moon in her sky. It is such an amazing feeling to know that I grew her, birthed her, and now she is growing into a beautiful young girl. It has been only 6 months, but the quick changes really put the concept of time into view. Everything moves all too fast.
Although my mom has been gone for so long, and my time with her was so short, she instilled in me the core values and morals that I hope to instil in my daughter. I realize that my mom probably doesn’t care about a thank-you at this point. I know that she is aware of how much I loved her, do love her, and will always love her. But, I think at this point in my life, now that I am a mom, I truly understand what she experienced, and am ready to write what I have been wanting to for so long.
I miss you. I miss your laugh. I miss how you wouldn’t let me pass by you in the kitchen without giving you a hug, and how your head literally rested on my shoulder because you were so short. I miss the nights when I had an upset stomach and you would let me lay across you on the couch so you could rub it better . . . even when I was 13 years old. I miss our movie nights when you would send me to the movie store with your brick of a cell phone so I could call you and let you know what our choices were. I’d pick up a bag of popcorn, grape pop and red liquorice for you, and we would snuggle in for some laughs. For these memories, I thank you.
I remember how calm of a person you were. One time there was a storm that we were sure was going to produce a tornado, and I was terrified. The hail was the size of golf balls and the rain was so thick you couldn’t see three feet ahead. You said, “okay Britnee, let’s go into the basement” as calmly as you could. We grabbed the cat and went down into the basement where you told me stories of your childhood. Luckily, there was no tornado. As an adult now, I know that I would still be scared and that you probably were too, but you wanted to protect me and keep me calm. I would do the same thing for my children. For your selflessness, I thank you.
I remember how proud of me you were. You used to carry my report cards in your purse to show your friends at the pub. As embarrassed as I was at the time, I look back now and smile, because I would probably do the same thing with Ava. You never missed a parent-teacher night. You never scolded me if I didn’t do well on a test. You were my number one fan and you always cheered me on to do my best. You never told me I wasn’t good enough, and on days when my self-esteem wasn’t the best, you told me how beautiful I was and that I didn’t need to change a single thing about me. I don’t think you understand how important that was for my growth. Although you weren’t here to see it, I made it through my teenage years comfortable in my own skin, acne and all. I never doubted my self-worth, and that’s because of you. For your constant encouragement, I thank you.
You taught me to have a backbone. I am independent, and although I have a loving husband (and would never in a million years want to be without him), I know that I could make it on my own if I had to. This is such an important quality to have. I got through university all by myself. I moved out on my own. I paid my own bills and never asked for money. I was thriving when I met my husband. I was confident. For your strength, I thank you.
You were humble. You didn’t have much. You lived paycheque to paycheque. Still, the bills always got paid and there was always food on the table, and a smile on your face. Our little apartment was always spotless (probably because you scrubbed the floors on your hands and knees; Mom, there is such thing as a mop). On payday, you would take me to McDonald’s before school to get a McMuffin for breakfast. On my birthday you would take me to the mall to pick out new clothes. I never missed out on hot lunch at school, and I never missed a field trip. I know that you had some financial help from our family, but that is what family is for. You only asked for help if you really needed it. I don’t remember you ever complaining about money. You didn’t need to take luxurious vacations. You were happy to go camping on weekends in the summer with all of our secondhand equipment. You would perch your lawn chair on the beach and watch me swim. Then you would join me in the water and make me pull you around by your feet while you floated on your back. For your humble nature and silliness, I thank you.
You were kind and compassionate. I don’t recall you ever saying mean things about anybody. You were the last person to judge a soul. I remember there was a Muslim lady on the second floor of our apartment building. You heard that her husband was not saying nice things to her, so while in the laundry room one day, you invited her over for coffee. That woman was so taken back by your kindness. She did come to have coffee with you several times. She taught you about her culture and I helped her young son with his English homework. At your funeral, there were hundreds of people. I didn’t know half of them. It shows how many peoples lives you touched without looking for recognition. For teaching me kindness, equality, and compassion, I thank you.
You struggled. You had your issues that frustrated me. You experienced things in your life that no human being should have to endure. Because of it, you sometimes drank too much. At the time, I was so embarrassed, and angry. But, regardless of your struggles, you never stopped being a mother first. You allowed your love for me to outweigh your issues. For marching on and doing the best you could, I thank you.
Mom, not a day goes by that I don’t think of you. As a mother now, I get it. I understand the choices that you made were what you thought was best at the time, with the resources you had. You gave me a wonderful foundation to build upon, and all of your good qualities that have been ingrained in me help me to raise my daughter. So, without you physically being here, you are helping me to be the best mother that I can be. Despite your flaws, your beautiful human flaws, I would never want to tell the stories of a different mother. It is why I gave my little girl your name. I am proud of you. I miss you, I love you.