It's funny how there are some things in life that I just can't understand until I'm in the place that you were in when I was younger.
See, I still remember being around teenage years and listening to you. You would encourage me softly to not lose myself when I was trying to fit in at school. I remember thinking at times that you were rather sappy about it sometimes. Of course I was going to be me, who else would I be? But I see it now. I look at my daughter, trying to find her way. I see her being brave and confident one minute and so unsure the next. I see all the influences around her, making her question herself and her dreams. I see those who would want to change her. I see those who don't see who wonderful she is. And I want to beat them off with a stick. But I know this is slowly turning in to her fight, not mine. I'll always be one step behind her . . with a big stick to beat off the bad when she needs me. But before that, I'll encourage her to stay true to herself. I'll build her up so that she won't need me to fight off the bad; she'll learn how herself. And when she isn't home, I'll pray. I'll pray for her to be strong, for her to be solid, for her to be brave, and for her to keep her softness, her innocence, and her genuine heart in the face of a harsh world.
I don't think I can even guess at how many cards you gave me that said stuff about how proud you were of the young woman I was growing in to. I think the first one probably made me blush from the praiseful sentiments. After several of them, I remember smiling because it was nice. But I had no idea how genuine the feelings of being proud could be from the first card to the last. I know now that every single card was hand picked because that was what was in your heart. I remember thinking with one card that you may have just wanted to reassure me that you were still proud. I know better now. I know those cards weren't picked just to reassure me; they were picked because your heart was over flowing and there honestly wasn't any way that the nice words in the cards could have ever captured what you felt. And I've already decided that when my baby turns 13 this year, her birthday card is going to tell her how proud I am of the young woman that she is turning in to. Because I am.
On our walks down the road Mom, I used to talk so much. I had so much to say and you always were there listening. I can still talk an ear off when I get so inclined. But now I see that you held your tongue so that I could run mine. I sit now, listening and listening and listening to all the angst of growing up, the drama among friends, the crush of the week, the difficulties of school, and I listen. I interject sometimes, just like you used to. Because it is so easy for her to get too caught up in life. I let her interrupt me too and she keeps talking, and I keep listening, just like you used to. I had no idea then how much energy it took to keep up with my ramblings; but I do now.
I remember you staring at me some times. I always thought that was a little silly. You of all people know what I look like. But sometimes at breakfast, or in the middle of the day for no reason, I'd look at you and you'd be looking at me. There was usually an emotion in your eyes that I didn't quite grasp. But I know that emotion now. You weren't just looking at my face. You were looking at me and seeing right down to my heart. You were looking at me and seeing me when I was 5. You were looking at me in awe that so much of your heart could be outside your body wrapped up in your child forever. I know that look now. I give that look now. And I see the look in her eyes now, that she doesn't quite get it. But she will one day.
Tonight I'm thankful for a good example of how to transform as a mom to be what the kids need. Because these kids of mine just keep on growing. They don't need me for the things they used to need me for. And they'll need me even less for things as they grow. But I'll always be their truest friend, their biggest fan, and the one who wants the best for them. Just like you Mom.