When I was a kid, you did a lot of things that I found strange. You woke up before all of us so that you could "drink your coffee in peace." When we went shopping for clothes, you immediately headed for the back of the store, because "everything in the front is more expensive." Every time the tornado sirens went off, you put on all your good jewelry before we headed to the basement, because you wanted to "look like Liberace when the newsman shows up," just in case the storm hit. As a kid, I didn't get it, but today, I feel like I am turning into you.
I'm sorry that it never occurred to me in my own little self-centred world that I was the centre of yours.
Just like you had your chocolate bars stashed in the nightstand, I have figured out that in order to enjoy my trashy magazine and sweet snack, I have to sit on the bathroom floor in hiding. You used to like to go to the grocery store by yourself so that you could enjoy Michael Bolton and Jon Secada uninterrupted. Now, the second my kids are out of my minivan, I roll the windows down and turn up the '90s rap music. I distinctly remember the overwhelmed look on your face when you would read newsletters about upcoming projects at school. Today, I feel like I might throw up the second I find a five-page book report form hiding in someone's folder. I totally get how you lost one of us at that fancy restaurant only to find him under the table buttering people's shoes. I once pushed a stroller at the zoo for five minutes unaware that my son had gotten out to look at the tigers.
Being a mum is hard.
Motherhood is especially difficult when you can't find time to have one minute alone. Mums are never truly alone. Not in the car, not in the bathroom, not even in your own thoughts. The need for five minutes to yourself is real, and I'm sorry that I never understood that. I'm sorry I took for granted that every time you took a breath, you were thinking of me. That each night when you went to sleep, I was the last thought on your mind and your first when you woke up. I'm sorry that it never occurred to me in my own little self-centred world that I was the centre of yours. And even though your children were your everything, you needed a break.
I wish I knew then what I know now. I wouldn't have laughed when you dropped the cookies straight from the oven because you burned your hand. I would never have talked back if I had known it was breaking your heart. I wouldn't have caused so much trouble with my brothers so there were fewer fights for you to break up. But more than anything, when you asked for one hour a week to watch Thirtysomething in peace, I would have left you alone. Even though you needed that time for your sanity, all it took was one cry from the other room to disrupt the moment and you were back in action. That's what mums do. We heal and we help and we show up, even when we don't want to. And you always showed up.
As a mother, I'm empathetic to the day-to-day struggles you went through and in awe of the fact that you raised four children without an iPad. As a daughter, I'm thankful. For all the sacrifices you made (no matter how small), I'm humbled. And for all those times when I should have just given you five minutes, I'm sorry. There are days when I struggle, when I think I just can't take any more, and just as I did as a kid, I still turn to you. Even when I'm at my worst, I know that when you hold me in your arms and dry my tears, I'll never be alone. And on those days when I've hit my limit and show up at your house with my four children in tow, neither will you.