My mother and I have a pretty solid relationship (after barely surviving my tumultuous teenage years). There have been a lot of struggles over the years, and I know she stays awake some nights going over all the ways she's failed me, or how things could have gone differently, but the truth is, she is one of the strongest women that I know. She's taught me me about bravery and tenacity, and how to never apologize for who I am or what I want. She's showed me how to be giving, and forgiving even when I might not want to be. And some of my best childhood memories (in a childhood swamped with trauma and uncertainty) are of her.
She used to have this marvelously 80's night gown made of rayon or polyester that was baby blue and went all the way to the floor on me. It had roses and lace embroidered on the collar and (I think) short billowy sleeves. I used to put it on with a pair of her beige heals (which were too big and flopped as I walked) and a teal pearl clip on earrings. I remember looking at myself and thinking that I was the height of sophistication and elegance, and dreamed of the day that I could be as lovely and glamorous as my mother.
I also remember watching her apply her makeup in the bathroom, and once I asked if I could do her makeup - she let me, and I felt like I had one the lottery. She ended up looking like a clown that had gone on a bender, but she told me that it was beautiful anyway. Mom's teeth are tinted grey because of medicine she took as a kid, and she's always been self conscious about it, but I never noticed, because all I could see was her beautiful smile, and that I hoped I would grow up to be pretty like her one day.
Despite all the things that could have gone differently, or all the times we butted heads, I always saw how much she gave for me. There was always a magical Christmas no matter how many presents were or weren't under the tree. There was always cake on my birthday. And she always helped me with my sewing projects, no matter how difficult the task. I remember more than once going to bed frustrated with a collar I just couldn't get right or an invisible zipper I couldn't get to line up, and in the morning, I woke up to a finished garment that made me feel like the bees knees.
Once, to show my undying gratitude, I saved up my money to buy her a Rod Stewart CD and some scented bath soaps (the height of luxury in my opinion), and put them in a shoe box I decorated with unicorn wrapping paper. I even made her a cookie cake, which raised over the sides of the pan and all over the bottom of the oven. I tried to clean up my mess, but it was late and dad told me we could clean up in the morning. Mom woke up pissed as hell that I trashed her oven, but when I showed her the cake and her special gift, she cried for getting mad at me, hugged me, and told me it was wonderful. I later caught her jamming out to Rod Stewart while washing dishes, suds flying off her hands as she danced.
Yeah, me and mom have had our disagreements, and strongly worded arguments, and even a few all out spats, but the truth is - I am who I am because I learned how to be the best kind of human from my mom. It's been hard this year with her living three hours away and the pandemic keeping us apart, but on days like today, I look back on all the good times and smile. This is for my mom, with love.
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