I know there was a day when you were something other than my mom – those photos you have of the Pre-Mom phase are so surreal that they may as well have been a different incarnation entirely – but since it’s not in my consciousness, those Pre-Me days, it’s like you’ve only ever been my mom. I mean that’s at least how I see it.

See, because you are the one person I can count on no matter the time of day or night. The one who listens to my whining and excitement and gives me encouragement and honest feedback, even when, and almost especially when, I don’t want it. The one who sees me better than anyone else can. I don’t know how to thank you for that.

I have hurt you, I have lied to you. I have abandoned you and been indifferent. I have taken advantage of you and treated you like I would never want anyone to treat me.

You have been a rock, something that holds me up, but that I have grown so accustomed to, I barely notice its existence.

When I found out I was pregnant a couple weeks after turning 17, your face was tight-lipped and the look in your eyes could only have been translated into Piiiiiisssssed. Now there are days I feel my own face contort into the exact same expression when my child does something I know will effect her more than she could ever know. You knew, you KNEW what laid ahead for me when I so completely, obliviously, and fantastically did not. Your eyes were actually filled with deep sadness and concern, and the lips were holding in the heartache and warnings and comfort and emotions that you wanted to share, but knew would fall to deaf ears. You also could foresee all the work that this revelation meant for YOU, in that split second, when I couldn’t even see beyond the next doctor’s appointment. I now know that hurt you, I know that was too much work for me to have assumed you would take on (Ha! I thought I would do it on my own!! ROTFLMAO!!!), but you did, without once making me feel shame or guilt over it, and my child and I both appreciate it. I know you did it for her just as much as you did for me. I was so naive mom, so naive. And you, in turn, were the strength we all needed.

I know everything you did was out of the same love that kept you awake at night when I was a baby, the same love that forced me to take pills when I was sick, assured me I wouldn’t die on stage during the dance recitals that both fascinated and mortified me, and the same love that miraculously gave you the willpower to work multiple jobs my entire childhood, no matter the time of day or night, to keep us little mongrels fed, clothed, and completely loved. That undying, unconditional, irreplaceable mommy-love that I so immensely appreciate.

When I was little, you were my world. I remember the safety of sitting in your lap, I remember your courage when you saved me from cockroaches, and I remember your softness during all the hardness. When I got into my early teens you were my buddy; the late night runs to the grocery store to read magazines and chill when no one else was there but the hot Mexican floor cleaners, are some of my favorite moments with you. Mid-teens were about as fun for me as they were for you, and by late-teens I thought I no longer needed you. At 18 I took my baby several states away to Do It On My Own and after a couple of years being as stubborn as a petulant child, I returned home with a newfound desire for all the mommy-love I knew I’d missed. Since then I use your love every chance I get; you’ve helped me raise not just one daughter, but we’re working on a second. (They’re turning out wonderfully by the way, thank you!)

Being a mom myself now for going on twenty years, I can see how you’ve had to put everyone else’s stories before your own, everyone else’s excitement and pain first. I think I was in my early thirties before I asked you how YOU were doing, and I still only ask sporadically. How can I not be grateful for every little and enormous thing you do? How do I fail so phenomenally at expressing my thanks? It’s because no matter how many times I say it, and show it, and try to make you understand, it will never be enough. No one knows what you have sacrificed, no one saw you every time you cried, nor has any idea about the sleepless nights of worry and concern for your children’s health, happiness, and ability to be in the world. This isn’t something I can ever repay.

I love you like a leaf loves its tree; I am just one of the many beautiful things you’ve created and dedicated your life to forming, and without your patience, diligence, and love, I would not exist.

Because you’re my Person, the one who will always have MY back, be there for ME. And someday, if I grow up enough to actually have an adult relationship with you, I might be able to be there for you… but until then, I get to be two little girls’ Person; be there for THEM in an exceptionally unbalanced, beautifully off-kilter, quasi-karmic way of paying my thanks and love and gratitude for YOU forward to the next generation.

I love you mommy.

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