An open letter to my mother.
I never understood how sometimes you looked at me like you would cry. But when I see myself in her, I see so much potential.
Looking at my youngest, and knowing she could be my last contribution to the future, I don’t want to let her down. I know that I look so much like you, mom. I know that there are things in your past that you wanted to be different, or things about you that you never got to know.
Adoption is the path that really separates us; you are my biological parent. I am also near to being your twin. Then there is Millie, and she is actually your clone. How cool is that?
But let’s get back to it, mom.
I never got it. I was so angry when I was spitting hate and depression and fear and hurt into your face. How being an angsty teen made you blank out as you stared at me. I wanted to punch you.
I didn’t get it.
And while her words are not nearly as vile, when Addie tells me she will never do whatever it is that I am asking. When she pushes me away from a hug. The moments that she ruefully ignores me and I can see her eyes roll and her lips mimic my words.
I get it. She looks like her Dad and acts like her Mom…
I want to embrace her body even more. I want to tell her I don’t care what she says to me. I love her, unconditionally. Not because she is Addie, or my daughter. Because she is me. From the eyes to the hips, to the swagger and sass. I made that. She is mine. And I love her because of all that, and because she is she. There is potential in that child.
Mom… they are so amazing. I have a gift of the future to give and I am so afraid to fail them. To fail the world and not tap all of the potential out of them.
But they are in the backseat singing songs you and Dad used to sing to me. They are each counting, one taking odds and one evens. When we go shopping they beg for me to buy calculators and notebooks so they can write checks and make numbers.
And I feel overwhelmed because I get it.
We are never done growing up and motherhood is a battlefield. It’s not always an active battle, and the opposition changes and (we can hope) is never a true enemy, either. But sometimes it’s our own minds- and we need to get out of the way. Sometimes it is our kids- and they need to get out of the way. Sometimes it is our partner, or a grandparent, or a teacher, or a friend… and we need to lean in. And I get it. Motherhood growing up has the same growing pains as childhood. They’re not more mature, or classier, or cooler- in fact, they are the same ones, but we don’t get to tend them alone. We must do so behind closed doors and confusing emotions we long thought we understood.
I thought the first time I held each of my girls, I was holding a part of my heart. But that was just small fish. The moment I held them, I was holding a part of the world in my hands. A very important puzzle, newly added to the planet, that would grow and take shape with or without me, and I vowed it to be with.
So, Mom. I am with you. I am with them. And whether I have the opportunity to raise them for 5 years or 105, to add to my puzzle another time- these things are uncertain. What is, is that I get it.
Each time you looked at me, our physical differences only differing the slightest- your eyes and hair just a shade lighter, me an inch taller, our pinkies matched in curve, toe-to-toe (or bunion to bunion, as it were), in the heat of an argument- and you never flinched, never faltered. Yeah. I get that. You love me. Your career is psychologist. Your mission is mother.
And you did, and continue to do, an amazing job.
I’m probably not God’s greatest gift to Earth, but I’m pretty OK, doing my best to raise pretty OK. I see myself in the girls so much. In Millie, more physically, and Addie, more emotionally, and I pray I didn’t pass on some of my more intense faults. I hope my acne doesn’t scar them. I hope my depression doesn’t dampen them. But I hope they have the parts of me that love so wholly it hurts to let go, even when it’s time. I hope their compassion never ends, even when it’s crying at the same scene in the same movie they’ve seen a million times. I hope they know they can always come home- though they were meant to fly.
I hope you see you in me, because I want to be all the parts of you.
I get it, mom.