Now that I am seven years and two children deep in this whole motherhood thing, I have a far greater appreciation for my experiences as a child, and for you, both as a person and as my mother. I now understand what you meant when you would say, “There is no manual that tells you how to be a good parent.” Being a mom is super hard.
So, there are a few things that I would like to extend my sincerest apologies and warmest thank-you’s to you for. Here goes:
I am sorry for complaining about dinner literally every night for my entire childhood. I now know how much time, energy, and planning, went into those meals for this picky palette. Plus, after a long day, every day, there was probably little that was more annoying than listening to me complain while you tried to enjoy your meal. And, thank you for continuing to do it, day after day, even though I made it suck. Those are still some of my most valued memories, and a tradition that I have passed on to my children.
I am sorry for crying for weeks on end when we moved in to our new home because I thought you and dad chopped down my cherry tree. I now know that there was no cherry tree. That was a completely irrational toddler tantrum that must have been super annoying. And, thank you for not killing me.
I am sorry that I would push you and dad apart when you would kiss in the kitchen or hold hands in public because I thought it was gross. I now understand that you two never had any time alone to connect with one another as a couple. And, seeing you two show each other affection for all those years served to model the type of relationship that I wanted to have with my spouse.
I am sorry for insisting that I did not want you to walk me to my classroom in kindergarten because “I’ve got this, mom.” I may have been an independent, strong-willed child, but after crying my eyes for months over my son starting kindergarten, I now know how hard this transition must have been for you. And, thank you for letting me do things on my own, even when it was hard. It fostered the independence that I value so much as an adult.
I am sorry for not letting my brother play with me and my friends. I now get that a). you allowing me to have friends over was mostly more work for you because more kids means more mess and more noise, b). you just wanted to keep me busy so that you could relax or get things done for a little bit and my constant screaming at my brother probably did not allow you do that, and c). because I was being a little asshole. There was no reason why my brother could not play with us. In fact, my friends loved him. Thank you for continuing to remind me about the importance of my relationship with my brother. It is why we have a great relationship now, and it is a value that I try to instill in my boys.
I am sorry for pushing you to the point where you would scream at me. I could often see that you were starting to lose your cool, but kept going anyway. The truth is that I want to scream often now. And sometimes I do. And sometimes, my kids need to be yelled at. That is how they learn the difference between a little issue and a you-might-die-if-you-keep-doing-that (e.g. running out in traffic, flipping the quad) issue. Thank you for screaming. Screaming has kept kids alive for thousands of years. And, I know that you yelled because you cared, because I mattered, and because sometimes being a mom is just too much. I yell for all those same reasons.
I am sorry for asking you not to get out of the car because I was too embarrassed to be seen with my mom. That was just stupid, and I was a jerk. You are amazing, and I would have been lucky to have been seen with you.
And, obviously, I am literally sorry for everything about my teenage years, which I would prefer not to make public in this blog.
But mostly, I am sorry for not appreciating you and all that you did for me more while I was growing up…
… because, now that I am a mother, I know that it is so hard and exhausting, but I press on out of the most intense love that I have ever known. And, sometimes, when I open my mouth, your words—the ones that you spoke to me as a child when I was doing some of the same things that my children do now—come out. And I realize now, that you were an imperfect being doing your damnedest to be a perfect mom.
So, you see, Mom, there may not be a parenting manual out there, but I do not need one.
Everything I learned, I learned from watching you.
I am a pretty damn good mom.
Because you were a damn good mom.
Thank you for being my mentor.
Your previously ungrateful, but now completely-awed child