Thank you, Mom, for all the things. I get it now. Finally, I get it.
Growing up, I knew how much you loved me -- but I didn't realize how far you loved me. It covered so many different dimensions that I didn't even realize existed until I, too, became a mom. Understanding it better now, it's humbling. My heart overflows with gratitude.
I remember being no more than three years old, having been sent to bed without dinner for not finishing the meal I didn't like. Later that night, you snuck into my room with a bag of chocolate chips (!) and gave them to me -- right there in my bed. It didn't set me up for a lifetime of secretive eating. Instead, it told me, "Hey, this woman's got my back!" It wasn't about the clearly questionable food choice; I remember feeling so loved.
I remember the messages you stuck inside my lunch box every day of elementary school. How do I thank you for the time you spent on these little things every night after I'd gone to sleep? You were always "with" me no matter where I was, Mom.
I haven't always been the first to give the hugs; I've often been the first to let go. Thank you for hugging me anyway, Mom, and for holding on securely. You never wanted to let go. I get it now. You deserve to be the recipient rather than the initiator. I'd give you 1000 hugs now if I could.
When I was 12, you asked me if I wanted to go to church with you. I said no. You countered with the fact that
there would be boys there. I retorted with "Nah -- those things are everywhere." You cared about my spiritual well-being. Although I didn't get it at the time, I remember it now, and I'm thankful you planted that seed.
When I was leaving for my first year of university, I realized that I'd have no radio or TV in my dorm room (these were the days where the Internet was accessible only at the library and no one had smartphones yet). You weren't in a great position financially to do anything about my potential boredom, but I begged. I don't know what you had to sacrifice for the sake of my entertainment, but you bought me a radio. Sure, you could've set a boundary and stuck to it. I'd have survived.
However, it was just like you to put my needs above your own. Thank you. You gave me everything; not always materialistic things, but your whole heart. I now see your selflessness across my entire life.
You showed me that it's okay for a mother and daughter to actually like each other. One of the biggest life lessons you modeled for me was the importance of friendship within our own family. I was never afraid of you. I never once thought, "Oh, I'm going to be in big trouble for what I just did." Instead, you showed me that it was safe to come to you with anything. You apologized when you made mistakes and modeled that I could do that, too. We'd work through whatever needed discussing. And we did. You were my safe place.
One of the most profound conversations we ever had didn't happen until I was an adult. Over my lifetime, you'd always said "I love you," then I'd say it back. One day, though, you straight-up told me you needed to hear it first sometimes. I'd thought it a million times, but it never dawned on me to say it before you did. Yes, OF COURSE you deserve to hear it first. You need love poured out on you as much as anyone else does.
Although I'm not always an open book emotionally, you need to know these things. Maybe this will in some small way make up for the Mother's Day cards where I wrote only "Dear Mom" above the pre-printed message and signed my name at the bottom.
There's no card big enough for my gratitude, Mom. Your unfailing love is the best earthly gift I've ever received. You were the foundation from which all other good things in my life could grow. I love you with my whole heart.
Sarah R. Moore is an internationally published writer and the founder of Dandelion Seeds Positive Parenting. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. She’s currently worldschooling her family. Her glass is half full.