I realize that I’m an adult and a mother myself now. I know that a woman nearing the end of her thirties shouldn’t really “need” a mom. But I do. I really do, and thankfully, you came into my life.
You didn’t come into my life to fill that void, of course. I had entered a supremely challenging stage of motherhood and life, and you entered to help me care for my children. I often think God sent you to take care of all of us.
Most of my friends consider their moms their best friend. As a kid, I lived vicariously through these unattainable visions of mother-daughter relationships as I watched them talk every day, share secrets, have “girls days” and laugh together. I desperately wanted it and needed it, but I had something very different instead.
I have very few happy memories of childhood.
I think it’s what drives me so ferociously as a mother now to try to be a perfect mom to my children; an aspiration that I realize is unrealistic and one that I’m certainly not achieving on more days than not, but one that I work towards every single day. I worried about having children for the longest time – and panicked when I found out that I was having a daughter – because I didn’t want my daughter to ever feel about me the way that I feel about my mother. I had a toxic, ugly version of motherhood as my example, and I still live in fear of replicating it for my children.
From the vantage point of adulthood, I now suspect that my mother had untreated mental health issues, but as a kid, I was scared of her. I never knew what to expect, and I constantly walked on eggshells around her. She raged at me all the time and called me things that I can’t begin to imagine ever calling anyone, especially my daughters. A virtual shut-in, my mother hated leaving the house or going outside, so I spent most of my childhood alone in my room. Sometimes she would be sweet and funny, but more often than not she was neurotic, suspicious, condescending and mean. I remember once giving her a huge bouquet of flowers thinking that they would make her smile. I always tried so hard to make her happy and proud of me. She looked at them and asked, “What did you do? Why are you giving me these? You know I hate flowers.”
I entered adulthood a bit damaged but hid all those scars with professional accolades until I got married and eventually entered motherhood both hopeful and terrified. I have always maintained an incredible network of supportive friends who have taught me so much about the kind of person that I aspire to be. In contrast, as my friends would call their moms on a daily basis to tell them about their day or the cute thing that their child did that day, I would send photos to my friends. I don’t even know my mother’s phone number.
And then you came into my life, and you are more like a mom to me than my mom ever was.
You love my children like they’re your own grandchildren. You ask me questions about my day, and you truly care about the answer. I started slowly inviting you to things at the kids’ school and texting you cute photos and funny stories about them. You would tell me to get rest, not as some passive-aggressive comment about my appearance, but because you truly cared. I have shared my good and my bad days with you. When the kids or I am sick or hurt, I ask you for your opinion. You are often the first person I text when the kids do something amazing or funny because you love my kids, and in loving my kids and caring about me, you have filled a void that has been there for so long.
My mother has never told me that I’m a good mother. She points out where I fail and told me how much she hated my child’s first birthday party. The day you told me that I’m a good mother meant more to me than you will ever know. I know that I’m not your daughter. You have two grown daughters of your own, and I admire you so much as a mother to them and a grandmother to their children. I am sure that you’re not a perfect mother – nobody is – but I see how much love, energy, and devotion you pour into your family. I hear the way that you speak about your daughters and how much you do for your grandchildren. You have more energy than many people half your age. You are a rare soul.
Thank you for coming into my life.
Thank you for loving my babies so much.
Thank you for never judging me.
Thank you for never letting me feel like a lesser person because I’m not perfect, and on some days, I’m truly a mess in every sense of the word.
Thank you for never letting me feel alone when I feel like I’m an island.
Thank you for being an answer to a prayer I didn’t know I’d sent out and thank you for making everything better the minute you walk through my door.
Thank you so much to the woman who is more like a mom to me than my “real” mother.