My earliest memory of my mom is this: us sitting on the floor of my childhood living room. We have a menagerie of half naked Barbies on the footstool between us and we are deciding a plot for our game. I remember her being beautiful, and why wouldn’t I, she is breathtaking. But I remember her being beautiful for different reasons, because when your three it doesn’t matter if she has the newest haircut, the trendiest clothes or symmetrical features. No, I remember admiring her beauty because she was laughing with me. She was probably in a dingy sweatshirt that she was third in line to own, stretch pants and wool socks (her lifetime favorite). But she was laughing with her heart. The smile in her eyes was of something of a mother being so full of love, and twenty years later it hasn’t left her eyes.
It didn’t even leave her eyes all the nights during my teen years that I told her I hated her. The years that I raged and squealed like a banshee and slammed every cupboard, door, book, brother, etc that I could find and swore up and down I would never, ever in ALL MY LIFE want to be like her.
She kept that smile in her eyes when our home burnt to the ground and she was left with two young children and the clothes on her back. All I wanted was all of the material things I had lost back. And I screamed and cried about a million things that, to this day, I can hardly remember. But, somehow she managed to convincingly keep her head held high and never stop loving us.
It didn’t leave her eyes when she was single and picking up the pieces of a 21 year marriage. Not even on the nights when I could see that the world was almost too much for her to handle and I didn’t hug her like I should have or make her laugh like I should have. Half the time she was the one making me laugh just so I didn’t think my family was falling apart at the seams. Which, now, I realize was the reason it didn’t.
She made it to every concert, girl scout outing, Easter/Halloween/Christmas party. She held me when my heart was broken. She taught me what exactly was behind the birds and the bees and laughed at my reaction. Even though she wanted me to, she talked me out of leaving college to move home even when I would cry every night with a homesick stomach my entire freshmen year. She held my hand as I dealt with death and heartache and she never lost that smile in her eyes.
This is to every mom who’s felt the stress, who thinks motherhood is a full-time job, who wishes her ungrateful children would wake up, who wonders if she’s really cut out for this…Because one day your three year old will remember that Barbie game that you decided to play instead of throwing that last load of laundry in. She’ll remember just how beautiful you were that day and she’ll know that that day will make her just a little happier for the rest of her life.
I love you, Mom.