It’s been a while since I’ve had the urge to write anything. I know we usually reserve posts and showers of affection directed towards our moms for Mother’s Day, but I was reading Helen Keller’s “The Story of My Life” and as she was offering a brief description of her family members, her mom only got two sentences:
“How shall I write of my mother? She is so near to me that it seems almost indelicate to speak of her.”
And I realized in that moment, that I’ve never read anything quite so accurate when it comes to my relationship with my mom. She is probably the only person on earth to know my inner workings quite so intimately. Perhaps one day she will relinquish that unique identity to a dear husband, but until then, she is it, for me. She’s my absolute best friend. Anyway, I think I sell my mom short a lot of the times because I can’t ever figure out how to say what I’m trying to say, and I just decided that today, I would try. My mother is, as many of you know, a phenomenal woman, and is ever so deserving of this post and these words and so much more. The words are undeserving of her, truly, but I tried my best to capture even a fragment of our most precious relationship.
See, Mom is more than a pile of adjectives or paragraphs full of funny anecdotes. She is this vast compilation of a personality, full of twists and turns and nooks and crannies. For all my exploration, she is unknowable and yet seeks to make herself known. She will be in shopping lists and errands mode one moment and full of guileless anticipation at the thought of a good cup of coffee the next. She is old fashioned in the way she expects quality service from restaurants and yet forgiving and open minded when someone royally screws up (either a waitress or a child of hers haha). She fights for what she believes to be right and is stubborn as all get out when it comes to staking principles on moral ground, but somehow she maintains humility and understanding. She works to comprehend what confuses her, and is unstoppable until her curiosity is sated. She is not a saint, and she knows it. She is not perfect, and she owns it. She is just a regular ole’ mom, but even so, she is everything to me. She’s like, one of the only people I bother to text; I hate going longer than a day without talking to her. I can carry on endless conversations with her, and similarly, can spend days with her without speaking because she just knows. She knows when to let me rant and when to gently correct me, she knows when to laugh with me (or at me), and when I need her to focus. I have nothing but the highest esteem and respect for my mom. She is strength and grace and empathy and practicality. She has picked me up when I’m too tired to stand and if I refuse to move, she’ll lay down next to me.
If I think of my parents in the form of a tree I see Dad up in the tree top. He is dancing in the sunlight and following breezes, bending under hurricane-like winds, growing taller and taller, and constantly weathering whatever comes. He shields his children from the rain, offers them cool shade on a hot day, always has room for me to balance and read on a low branch, while simultaneously offering Austin all the adventure he could need to climb up higher and higher into the sky. Dad is strong and not one of us doubts his authority or rightful place as head of the household. That said, I will always see Mom as the roots. Mom keeps Dad, my visionary extraordinaire of a father, firmly planted on the ground. Dad can only grow as tall as Mom grows deep, and her roots don’t just grow down; they spread out, encompassing each of her children with strength and compassion even though we so often fail or turn away. Many people don’t know the lines following J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous quote, “Not all who wander are lost,” but just after this iconic saying comes the, in my opinion, horribly underrated: “Deep roots are not reached by the frost.” When our tree seems almost forsaken to a bitter winter, Mom’s roots are what ensure our family will grow again.
Mom, thank you couldn’t be said enough times for all that you are and everything that you do. I am so grateful for you in more ways that I could count and insurmountably blessed by you each and everyday.
I love you.
(Mom & I the Sunday before I left)
(Mom & I at my high school graduation in 2013.)