I was 16 years old. It was a Tuesday night and I had just got done cheering at my high school’s soccer game. I was tan. My waist was much smaller back then. Heck, I did not have “hips.” My hair was in place with a perfect cheerleader bow high on my head. My lip gloss was on point. I smelled great – Ralph for Women by Ralph Lauren was my go to those days. My nails were painted, I smiled big and giggled with friends along the track. My biggest worry under those stadium lights was whether or not I could convince my mom, who sat with the other moms on a bleacher nearby, to let me go out with friends after the game on a school night. Such a heavy worry for a 16-year-old. And, because that was my biggest worry in life, there was not a gray hair on my head or a wrinkle on my smooth face. Yep, I was my best self then. And by self, I am being purely vain.
After the game ended, I headed to find my Mom, made some sort of deal along with my other girlfriends and after successfully pleading my case that a 16-year-old should not head home at 9 pm, a group of us girls piled into a car and hit our small town streets. And, there under the glow of parking lot lights, we chatted about our parents. Right then and there we made a pack. We made a promise. We swore we would never become our mothers.
I think it was from about 14-years-old to about 20 that my Mom, who looking back now on those years was very understanding and cool, was so uncool in the moment. My mom had my youngest sibling and only sister when I was 16 so there was that whole pregnancy factor. But then there was the clothes she wore which were so not the hip, crisp and stylish American Eagle brand I sported and then there was the messy bun or ponytail always on her head, like seriously could she not curl her hair? And goodness some days she didn’t put on a drop of makeup and would want to walk into a store with me! I loved her, I definitely needed her, I vented and cried to her, she was my friend, she was always there, but hang out with her? The definition of “cool” in the teenager sense, well, my mom didn’t fit the bill, I mean she was just my mom.
By the time, I turned 21, things really started to change. Maybe it was because I could actually “legally” hang with my mom and for once as I enjoyed an adult beverage with her on a lunch date, I somehow with a sip of alcohol on my breath felt like an adult beside her. But, I could never see myself be like her one day or even become her. No, my girlfriends and I still would revert back to our 16-year-old ways and chat and roll our eyes at the things our mothers said or did, as we headed out to a college party. We were so lost in our dreams, aspirations, and life to think about how we would give up anything of ourselves for a spouse or god-forbid for children. We were so far removed from the adulthood our mothers were living and looked at them in an almost trapped way. Like women that never got to fulfill something because they cared so much about their home and family. We saw their lives as boring and ours at the cusp of excitement. We were so ignorant with our new found freedom of adulthood and thought we just knew it all. As we grew up our love for our mothers evolved and while we loved them and appreciated them more, we just knew we would never be them – our mothers, and that was okay.
It remained this way through my mid-twenties, and then something happened. Something pretty incredible happened.
I became a mother.
And then I realized… in the instant that I held my newborn daughter, that the love of a mother is something pretty magical and special. In that moment in the hospital room, as I stared into my baby girl’s eyes, I saw my own mother. The love – oh the magnitude of love a mother gives is real. I know this because I felt it first from my mom and now I feel it and breathe it with my own daughter.
I learned that being just a mom is anything but just. It is 24/7 work and always on mode. Being a mom is selfless. Now, I realize that my 16-years-old self with my name brand clothes and hair and makeup perfectly done was because I mattered more to my Mom than I did to myself. Our happiness weighed more than her own. When I walked 10 steps ahead of her or behind her, because it was uncool to be beside her, I failed to realize then that she spent all her money and just plain time on us kids and our happiness. And she was exhausted, boy was she exhausted. How do I know this? Because I am with one child and she had five! Oh, and messy buns are now cool, Mom. So, I am so sorry I was so judgmental.
And then I realized… the commitment she gave my siblings and my dad and shutter at the thoughts that I use to have. How I felt she was giving everything up for us. That she most certainly was but it was the thought that she could never be fulfilled that haunts me as now it is the one thing that drives and fulfills me the most, being home and raising my daughter. Family and home are worth fighting and sacrificing for, and my mom was a living example of this.
But you see, many years ago, my girlfriends and I, well, we made a pack. We made a promise. We swore we would never become our mothers. But, now I realize the beauty of my mom and all moms. I finally really see her and who she has been all these years.
And when I became a mother, I realized that the one person I spent the most of my younger life swearing not to become for so many ridiculous reasons, was the very person I so much looked up to and so very badly wanted to be.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you.