May 8, 2011

30-Day Photo Challenge - Day Nine

Day Nine
~ A picture of the person who has gotten you through the most ~

I'm sure this is cliche, but it's my Mom.  Without question, she is the one person who has brought me this far.

Nine years ago, I wrote her this letter :

Dear Mom,

I just opened my email to find a picture of you that Dad sent yesterday.  IN the picture, evidently, you are talking with me on the phone while gardening, which I think is a uniquely accurate portrait of you. Tending the earth and tending your family, balancing the corners of your life in both hands.  I sat here and looked at the picture for a long time, thinking to myself how beautiful you are, have become, have always been.

Over the past few weeks, which I’m sure has been a culmination of many moments since my first child was born, you have been on my mind.  My boys are growing up and into their own little people and each day, I find that as I learn more about them, in some ways I understand less.  Their hearts and minds are feeling and thinking things I cannot see or touch and it is often hard for me to accept that.  As they try new things and wander off in their own directions, I feel such a strong urge to pull them back and insist on knowing their every hope or dream.  

But as time passes, I see that not only is that impossible, it’s not my place.  I have to let them grow and in those moments where I love them so much it hurts, but I don’t like them one bit, I have to learn to forgive myself.  I see that sometimes they might make me want to run away from home but that there is no time on earth when I love them more.

I learned all that from you and I don’t think I’ve ever once realized it until now.  I don’t know why it’s starting to make sense; maybe because time seems to be flying by so quickly that I’m worried I might not figure out all that I’m supposed to figure out and I’m putting a little pressure on myself to give it a shot.  Maybe it’s just that I am still growing up myself and this is a new stage of understanding and acceptance for me.  Whatever it is, I feel there is so much I want to say to you and I don’t know where to start.

If I could apologize for every horrible thing I ever said or every time I ever doubted your counsel, I would, but I know that doesn’t mean much.  Sometimes I say to Matthew, “I don’t want an apology, I just want you not to do it again”, and I think that’s true for most people.  I’m sure an apology doesn’t make up for years of whining or complaining or attitude or ungratefulness.  But for what it’s worth, it’s there in my heart anyway.

Before my kids came into my life, I never knew it was possible to love another person as much as I love them.  It has taken me almost ten years to realize the full impact of that love and I’m quite sure there’s more to come.  I live each day completely and totally devoted to them and it must seem effortless at times.  I look back at my childhood and you made it look so easy that I thought it took nothing out of you to be our Mom.  But now I know that it takes everything, and then some.  I know that it takes every shred of patience, every ounce of energy, every drop of creativity in your soul to raise children and I am astounded.  

I sit here looking at this picture of my mother and I suddenly realize how much of her is there that I have never seen. I wish I could thank you for every worry and every dream and every second guess that I know you harbored in your heart for us.  I know you did because I do it now, and for the first time ever, I understand.  I understand that the reason I love my children is because you loved me.  The reason I am able to teach them right from wrong, table manners, multiplication and why it’s important to be nice to people even when they’re not nice back is because you were successful.  When I can’t find the child-rearing manual, the only reason I know what to do in a crisis is because in some way you have taught me how to improvise.

I’m not writing this because it’s Mother’s Day.  I’m writing it because of all the people in the world who deserve to know that their life has been an amazing success, you are at the top of my list.  I know this because when I speak to my kids, I hear your voice.  In the harshest of words born of love and the warmest of words born of gratitude, I hear the unmistakable likeness of my mother.  

I never tell you how much I love you, or how much I miss living close enough to visit with you more often.  I have many days when I would give anything to just hop in the car and go have lunch with you.  Days when I wish I could hear your life story, spend some time, for once, listening to your dreams. In my whole life, I don’t think I’ve ever asked you what you wished for, what is important to you.  I want to apologize for being so selfish but then I look at my boys and I think that they are my wish, they are what is important to me.  Is that true for all mothers?  I want to ask you, “What else was there? What was there before us?” 

Mom, you have been, and continue to be my inspiration.  “Thank you” and “I’m sorry” are completely meaningless here as I’m trying to write what I really feel.  I suppose I just want you to know that there does come a moment in your child’s life where they look back and finally “get it”.   I thank you in my heart every day for my life, my ability to listen and to love, to give to others and to stay afloat when the waters are rough.  It will never be enough to say that but it’s the truest thing I know.

I hope you have a bright and wonderful Mother’s Day and that you celebrate the success of Motherhood you have so selflessly earned.  I look forward to hugging you and telling you myself the next time we’re together.

I love you more than I can say.


  1. Beautiful photograph. Beautiful letter.

  2. Crap. You made me SOB. What a beautiful letter. I feel all those things about my mom, but don't know that I'm brave enough to say them. We're a non-expressive family that way, and I regret it.

    And I would have known you from that photo from anywhere. :)