An open letter to the world and my mama:
When I was young, Mother’s Day was a reminder of just how incredibly lucky we were to be cared for every day by such a wonderful human. We used that day to show our mom we loved her.
We made her cards, and we bought her flowers. She slept in, and we made her (unfortunately lumpy) pancake breakfasts in bed. It was a day to remind ourselves, and her, that we appreciated all she did.
But every year, as I grow older, take on more titles and roles, and as I occupy more space in this world as a woman, the meaning of Mother’s Day changes for me.
I think this is because the relationship that I have with my mother has changed. She is still the first person I call when I have a question about cooking, or when I have an unexpected challenge that comes up (like accidentally putting dish soap in the dishwasher. I do not recommend that). But, honestly, there are still more days where I don’t talk to my mom than there are days where I do.
This isn’t because we aren’t a close family, she just isn’t close enough for me to make her breakfast in bed anymore. There are no hugs to be given. No homemade cards are drawn. Mother’s Day is now a phone call from miles away. Still a chance to tell her we love her, but from afar.
I’m sure we can all agree that they deserve so much more than just to be loved from afar. She deserves so much more than just one day. She deserves breakfast in bed and hand-drawn cards every day of the year, every year of her life. It breaks a little piece of my heart, knowing that I can’t do this for her.
And so, Mother’s Day loses some of its appeal to me. Partly because I can no longer celebrate it with her in person, and partly because it simply isn’t enough anymore.
As I start to navigate this world as a woman, the questions I have for her are endless. How do I stand up for myself? How do I keep myself safe? How do I let go, fall in love, and make a life with a partner? How do I cook a turkey? How do I know when it’s time to change jobs or change directions? When do I have to change my sheets? How much water is too much water for a fern?
The list is endless. The questions abound.
How do I carry myself in this world as a woman? As a friend? As a daughter? A granddaughter? A colleague? A partner? Am I doing this right? Is it supposed to look like this? Feel like this?
And without fail, no matter the question, no matter the problem, my mom picks up the phone and makes it better however she can.
Our relationship has evolved. Instead of tying my shoes every morning, she is delicately holding every single one of my loose ends—teaching me to tie them together into something that resembles a good life.
Instead of packing my lunch every day, she is tirelessly and patiently helping me unpack all of my fears, my emotions, and my mistakes. Instead of picking me up from school and helping me with my homework, she picks me up from the crashes and burns of my 20s—helping me with the real work of growing up in this crazy world.
This is the heavy-lifting that she does for us every single day. The real work of being a mother didn’t stop for her when the homemade cards and the breakfasts in bed did. If anything, it got even more demanding.
We got more complicated, more unpredictable, more challenging to keep safe. Mothering a bunch of clumsy and chaotic adults can’t be easy, but she does it in the most loving of ways.
My relationship with my mom is no longer measured in days that we speak or days that we hug. Love is no longer shown in handmade cards or breakfasts in bed.
Our love is shown in the days that we don’t speak. In the moments, every single day of my life, where I hear my mother’s voice, answering the questions in my head. Guiding me through my day, telling me which nectarine to pick, which brand of laundry soap to buy.
In the moments, every single day of my life, where I see my mother’s wisdom and compassion reflected in the women that surround me.
Our love is shown in the music I listen to, music that was once hers, blasted at an inappropriately loud volume while I’m cleaning the house, the way that she did when I was little.
In the deep love I have for nature, for mountains, for wine and bathrobes. That is what she has ingrained in me.
Our love is now shown in the advice I give to my friends—advice that she once gave to me. Our love is shown in the ways I carry myself in this world. The decisions I make as a woman because she taught me how to do these things.
Our love is shown in all of the times I don’t have to pick up the phone to call her because her essence is so deeply embedded, so deeply a part of mine, that she is already there with me. Even though she isn’t physically here, the lessons she taught me, and the values she modeled shape my every decision.
Our love is now shown in ways that don’t fit into one day. It is not measured in our daily actions.
Our love is now shown in how we, as two individual women, show up for the women around us. Every single part of who I am was formed by the way she showed up for me. Endlessly. Without fail.
So, for this Mother’s Day, there will be no breakfast in bed. There will be no handmade cards—there will be this.
There will be a knowing that I carry my mother, all her love, compassion, curiosity, and hunger for life, with me into every interaction. Into every decision. I will bring my mother with me, every day, in every major and minor life moment. That is how our love is shown.
To the woman who taught me that love is a verb.
To the woman who taught me how courageous women are.
To my mama—the woman who captures all of the good that is in this world.
I will always carry her with me.