Let me just first throw out there that you’re so under-appreciated and you’ve put up with so much shit that it’s borderline unbelievable; the only reason I believe it was because I was the root cause at most times. When I was little I would hate you for not getting me that toy in the store, or saying “no” to the family size bag of Cheetos (let’s be honest, you saved me from myself with that one). Of course it was your fault when I couldn’t find my soccer shorts and your fault when it was raining outside and I couldn’t go out to play. I was angry with you when you said no to the ice cream truck that drove through our neighborhood every summer afternoon, because you simply didn’t have a few quarters to spare.
When I was in the early stages of the horrible curse of puberty, I would hate you for not letting me go to the mall with that boy who wanted the wrong thing. You were the enemy for forcing me to try out for that sport I didn’t want to play, but then ended up playing for five years and adoring it. Let’s face it: I was an absolute pain in the ass. I claimed to hate you for so many things when you truly were doing the best you could. You unapologetically took on the role of the bad cop, while also taking on the role of Mom and Dad, the many times that you had to.
This brings me to the one thing I could not and did not ever hate you for. I couldn’t have, because as much as it affected me and our family, I saw the pain in your eyes for the first time. And it wasn’t a fleeting pain, it was a pain that aged you and slowed you down, chipping away at your ability to be.
I never hated you once for leaving Dad.
And when I saw everyone else rally around him and his dire sadness while leaving you in the dust, you stood tall. When everyone went through the stages of grief from losing the only bond of marriage they held true to their heart and made you deal with their anger, whether family or friends, you stood strong. It was the bravest and hardest thing you ever had to do, and on top of the pain you were already feeling inside, you had to face everyone else’s too. You made a decision for your life that would hurt and cause pain to yourself and those you love, but you had the hope to see it through.
I felt my fair share of the pain, too, but I pulled together a mere morsel of the strength that you had in order to show compassion to both you and Dad while fitting into the public high school mold. I won’t lie, it was hell; many years later I still sometimes feel that pain. When he would cry, I would cry; I got used to that. A broken family is something I never thought I’d come from, but in a way, I’m glad I did. I’m happy I had that life experience and was forced to grow into someone else, perhaps someone like you. The “bad guy,” the scapegoat, the one to take the fall when people in pain needed someone to blame was a role you took on with stride.
Whether it was divorcing Dad or giving me vegetables when I wanted a hot dog, you made the hard decisions for us so we could have a better life. I’ve learned so much from you and these experiences, and you continue to be my inspiration during the hard times in my life. Because of you, I know how to deal with emotional manipulation, how to see through people and instinctively know true intentions, to go with my gut, to make decisions about my own life that may be painful. I learned to not stay in a toxic situation just because it’s comfortable or would be the easiest option. All because you were brave enough to show me. I have a lovely dad, and now incredible step-parents, because of you. My family was once broken but now is larger and happier. While you were once blamed for all the pain, you should now be given credit for the grass being greener on the other side. I hope in time that you can feel this.
Mom, I want you to know that I remember all of it. Even the things I was too small to have memories for, I feel the things you did for me through the home videos and the laughs and the jokes our family has now. I want you to know that you’re a good mom and your efforts didn’t fall on blind eyes. I want you to know that the thought of you being sad brings tears to my eyes, and that I’m protective of you just as you are of me, of all of us. I want you to know that if I can be half the mom you are, my future children will be okay. Hopefully I will never have to go through the pain that you did, but my children will know the sacrifices you made to make yourself and us happy. I am proud to say that your courage and your strength run through my veins, and I am grateful.