An open letter to my mom and to all mothers and children who share the same special relationship. Maybe you can relate to these words and sentiments as well.
There are some things I have never told you. Actually, I suppose there are many things that I have never told you.
Not that I have kept things from you in an “I-want-to-keep-secrets-from-you” kind of way, but more so in an “Oh-where-has-the-time-gone?” and “What’s-potentially-slipped-through-the-cracks-in-our-relationship?” type of way. Yes, not only do I believe there are some aspects of my life that I have never told you, but I know with certainty that there are some specifically important things I have never admitted to you. In fact, I think I have only just yet fulled admitted them to myself. So, I apologize for the late notice. But don’t worry. I’m pretty sure that is all too common in a mother-child relationship. Better late than never.
Yes, this is one of the first things that comes to my mind. Although I am ashamed that an apology is the first spark of recognition in my brain in terms of things I may not fully disclose to you- I reason it would be far worse to leave this point out altogether in a letter to my mom.
It’s a school morning, minutes before my school bus is supposed to arrive. I am all ready to go. You have dressed me nicely for school in an ironed dress. The lace frills on my ankle socks itch. I am crouched, tear stained under the stairs on our back porch, praying that if I just stay here until the school bus passes I will not have to go to school. There is supposed to be another fire drill today and I can’t bear it. Not today. Not only am I shy or timid at this age, but I am completely riddled with self-inflicted anxieties and fears and foreboding. This is for no apparent reason, since I couldn’t have had a better childhood or have been raised with any more unconditional love.
I guess today’s fear is a fire alarm. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? I unzip my backpack in haste and peek in. Phew, it’s still there. It’s only been a few minutes since you reminded me to pack him, but sure enough, my comfort object in the shape of a love-worn stuffed bear I’ve named “Puffy” is still tucked away safely behind my pencil case. I pray my teacher forgets about the fire drill. I was utterly distraught last Wednesday, standing outside on the playground with my classmates, knowing Puffy was still tucked in my backpack inside… still near the potential harm of this fire drill. The sound of your voice brings me back to reality. You are frantic, yelling my name from inside the house, looking for me, worried. I take a deep breath and emerge from my hiding spot to brave the day.
I dig through 2 feet of laundry, mismatched dirty and clean piles that spill out of my closet. It’s a Saturday night and my friend is picking me up soon so we can go out. Finally, I find what I was looking for. My favorite Abercrombie and Fitch (or was it Hollister) short denim skirt with frayed holes in the pockets, I will be unable to keep my phone in there for fear it will fall out. I spray on some perfume- “Curious” by Britney Spears is always a safe go to-and creep downstairs.
My friend’s older brother was supposed to supply us with alcohol for the night but he couldn’t. I steal a Poland Springs water bottle’s worth of vodka from the cupboard, either replacing the amount I took with tap water or simply using nail polish remover to draw another line in Sharpie (indicating the amount left on the glass handle).
Whether I am apologizing for my behavior at the age of 7 or 17, I am sorry for any stress or anxieties I have caused you. I am still sorry today for any stupid mistakes I make, and I know I will be sorry tomorrow. The mistakes I make today and tomorrow will not be my last and for that I am sorry. I am always sorry.
Actually, I am more than just grateful. I just don’t know how I could put into words the extent of grateful-ness that I hope to exude in a letter to my mom. Forever indebted? There, that sounds better. I am forever indebted to you.
You gave me life. Not trying to sound dramatic, but when it all comes down to it, what isn’t dramatic about that? You physically brought me into this world, bright red and screaming, through your strength and love. For nearly half a year you carried me inside of you. You took in oxygen and recycled it to me so I could begin to breathe too.
I simply cannot list everything I am grateful for. If that were the case, I would never stop writing. Listing a few of the important things: a feeling of unconditional love and security, a warm bed to sleep in and good food to eat, a beautiful house over my head to keep me safe, doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of my gratitude.
I will narrow it down to your existence, the mere fact that you exist is what I am most grateful for. (This is the broadest statement I can use that still makes sense.) Please just remember that even the thought of you just existing, the thought of you being alive and well, thinking, breathing, talking, going about your average day on the same planet and dimension as I also am, is what I am most grateful for.
At least not in my opinion. A best friend isn’t someone who you talk on the phone with every day, or you see as much as you possibly can. A best friend isn’t someone who you tell absolutely everything to, they aren’t your maid of honor at your wedding. OK, I know that a best friend can be all of these things at some point or another-but I feel as if so much pressure is placed on the term “best friend” and how one is supposed to act towards their best friend.
All pressure aside, you’re my best friend- but not because we chat every day, spend time together every waking second or don’t buy an outfit without asking each other first. Because we don’t do any of these things. That’s not why you’re my best friend. You’re my best friend because you might not even realize that you’re my best friend. Because you’re the only person in this universe who I am absolutely, 100% sure would put your own interests, needs, and desires aside to make way for my own. I can’t say that about anyone else.
So even though we don’t act like two middle school best friends conjoined at the hip, don’t ever think that this translates to us not being “friends.” You are my best friend, and always will be.
… a problem, or a sticky situation, I meditate briefly on what I believe you would do in the situation, how you would handle my predicament. Usually this helps, and if it doesn’t, I just call you up and ask for more clarification as to what I should do. You always drop whatever you are doing to help me, regardless of whatever shit you have on your own plate at the moment.
The fact that you are so successful in so many aspects of life is not a surprise to me, or even my close friends who admire you the way I do. You are so generous and selfless, and this permeates through everyone who is fortunate enough to cross your path. I hope to only gain half the intelligence you have stored somewhere…half the worldly knowledge, half the intellectual, quick, rebuttals- half the wisdom.
…I have out grown the need of a comfort animal. Now that I am an adult (although it sometimes doesn’t feel like this is the case) my comfort object has been replaced by you. Friends can be fickle, lovers come and go, but your love is resilient. The security that you represent rests with me, the thought is beyond comforting. It is vital. The warmth of your security floats on the surface of my fears, like a buoy out in the ocean in Maine. I could leave that buoy bobbing there stuck for quite some time, and I know that when I need to pull it in, when I need to ask you for comfort or for an answer to my problems, it’ll still be there, tethered securely.
I see myself in you when you are focusing hard at work, your nose to blueprints and floor plans. When you exhale out of exasperation and still carry on. When I am laying awake at night, unable to sleep and I hear you rummaging downstairs, already forfeiting to your insomnia. People have often told me that they even see your handwriting in mine, which makes perfect sense seeing as how I spent the first twenty years of my life practicing how to draw every single letter so it mimics yours.
… I should be telling you these things on a regular basis. Constantly praising you for all that you do and for all that you are to me. I am aware of this, and I am sorry. Our relationship isn’t perfect and that makes me happy. I am glad that we fight, I glad we yell, I even suppose I am glad that we can’t for the life of us ever seem to every agree on anything. The bad will surely come and go between us, but the good is steadfast, unbreakable against all odds.
…but they just escape me at the moment. I hope that you can still hear and feel these unsaid things, know that they are there. That you understand that there will always be things I do not tell you, things I do not thank you for, things I omit to talk about during our conversations although they may make you happy. I do not hide these from you intentionally, there just doesn’t seem like there could ever be enough time to say them all in this lifetime. So I hope you know that they are there, regardless.
I hope you know that there will always be many more things that I am grateful of than the time it would actually take me to address them all to you. I hope you can read my mind, and even in the darkest of times know all of these without me having to tell you, and I hope you remember them.
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