I can’t begin to express how lucky I feel to have you for a mother. I’m thankful daily for the relationship we’ve shared over the years. The first time I saw you as not just my mom, but as my truest friend, was during the rehearsals and run of a community theater musical I was cast in (Brigadoon at the Woodstock Opera House if you care about such things. Ha!). I was still 15 and so you drove me the 30 minutes there, stayed in the car doing your nursing school homework during the 3-hour rehearsal, and then drove us the 30 minutes home. Every single day.
You didn’t make me feel like chasing my dreams was a burden to you. You made it work to our advantage, something you managed to do so often for our family over the years. Of course, I never knew all this at the time! It’s said you don’t know what you don’t know until you learn it. There’s so much about your life as my mom I never knew.
I never knew the hours you spent rocking me, then watching me sleep, even though you were exhausted, even though you should have set me down, crept out of the room and crawled into bed. You stayed. You studied my breathing and every curve of my face. You gave me the lightest kisses on my forehead, on my cheek, hoping like crazy I wouldn’t wake up, but you just couldn’t resist. You breathed in my baby scent and gently rubbed your cheek against my soft downy baby hair. You checked my breathing every night for far longer than you needed to.
I never knew how frustrating I was during my epic temper tantrum years. I’ve always been intense, sensitive, emotive, and I wish I could recall every detail of how you helped me through this emotional turmoil without changing who I fundamentally am. It’s Nobel Prize nominee ‘Momming’ for sure. I never knew how you loved me through those trying times, and continually built up my self-worth and self-awareness at the same time.
I never knew how exhausted you must have been every night by our bedtime. We thought nothing of asking you for another book, another song, a sip of water— every minute cutting into the brief time you had to yourself or to hang out with Dad before heading to bed yourselves.
I never knew how you struggled to find your own identity when you were raising my sisters and I, how motherhood and your love for us consumed you and fed your heart and soul, but at the same time trapped you. I remember you delaying your plans for your education a time or two, but I never realized at the time what a sacrifice that must have been, taking a class here or there, having dreams and professional goals but allowing ‘mom’ to always be your first, most important job.
I never knew how proud of me you really were, over just about everything. Something about kids hitting regular childhood milestones like riding a bike becomes magical when it’s your kid doing them. You have always been my loudest cheerleader.
I never knew how much love, how much thought, how much worry went into mothering. How fulfilling it is, but also how depleting it can be.
I never knew that I was your heart outside of your body; that my sisters and I would never experience joy or pain any day of our lives that wasn’t just as acutely felt by you.
I never knew… but now, I know.
I know them now because I’m a mother now. I know the highs. the lows, the hardships, and all the beauty. I’m a mother, too.
You taught me how to be one.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy. I’m forever thankful to be your daughter.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mary Barnes. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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