To The Woman Who Taught Me to Never Sit Still...Unless My Nails Are Drying

Sunday, May 8, 2016

First, an apology. I'm sorry I ever underestimated you. I should have known better. I always knew there had to be more to us, to what we could be. I'm sorry I told you to be more like Amber's mom and drive a Taurus and bring me and my 7th grade soccer team perfect, unblemished apple slices after practice. You laughed. "I have more in my life than just you, Whitney," you said. "You are loved," you said. "I will never drive a Taurus," you said.  

As it turns out, Amber's mom is an alcoholic. Things aren't always what they seem. 

We were rocky. I didn't feel like you gave me enough of your time. Everything and everyone else seemed to take precedence—you had a work trip, your friend needed you, you just...couldn't be there that time. 

And yet. 

You've never missed my birthday. You've shown me the world. You taught me how to shop quickly and efficiently. You've woken me up and surprised me with quick trips to beautiful places. You took me to the library. You introduced me to sushi at a random, hole-in-the-wall place by the airport. You held me down at Barnes & Noble and tried to force eye drops into my itchy eyes. You worked hard so I never wanted for anything. You threw your arm across my chest when we stopped too fast just in case my seat belt and airbag were somehow defective. You called my friends when they were mean to me and they wrote YOU letters of apology. You said exactly what I was thinking seconds after I thought it. You sent me He's Just Not That Into You with no note and no preemptive, explanatory phone call. You gave me someone to admire in every way. 

What I didn't know then, back when we were rocky and complicated, what I do know now, is that you were navigating through very deep pain that had nothing to do with me. It felt like it did, but it didn't. You protected me from it. You flung your arm across my chest just in case. And when you finally explained everything to me, the lights came on and I was more captivated by you than ever before. In literature, they call that a tragedy, but I consider us more of, like, a smart comedy. Suzanne Somers can be you and Kristen Bell can be me. They can be layered and funny and fun and pretty just like we are. 

Anyway, I couldn't believe it. Except I could. And when I looked at you, I finally really, really saw you. 

You gave me a gift that day, probably one of the biggest you've given me, and since then we've found our way to what I always wanted: A mom who shows up for me, sometimes more than I would prefer. A mom who answers the phone when I call. A mom who makes me apple slices. A mom who still won't drive a Taurus. 

Brava to you, mom. You are a totem of fierce love and deep, unwavering patience. You are sparkle personified. You are beautiful, but more importantly you are smart and funny and FUN. You exhaust me. You keep surprising me. I'd pick you straight out of a catalog every time. 

Above all else, I hope you know you've raised a really great kid. 

Happy Mother's Day, Queen Carlo! I love you endlessly. 

Us in horse form
All photos courtesy of Northern Born Photography

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