Thank you to my mother, who taught me a love of bacon and butter, who gave me her blue eyes and singing voice; nursed me through such multiple childhood illnesses I might have been Frederic Chopin; from whom I got my compulsive love of reading; who told me to never EVER alter my vocabulary for a man who can’t understand “big” words; who told me that digging in the dirt is a form of therapy; who drew circles on my nose and forehead and cheeks while singing Edelweiss to get me to sleep; who convinced me of the importance of getting a degree; whose skill in hypnotizing babies somehow lives on in me; whose incredible concrete-penetrating voice and fearlessness has found a home in my daughter, whom she never knew; whose thwarted creative drive still produced moving, affecting works of art; who left before we had a chance to know each other.
Thank you to my sister, who is the closest thing to being another me that this world has (God help us); who taught me to play and explore and invent; who stood by me when everyone else disappeared; who forgave me the sin of becoming a mother before her–and then surpassed me as a mother threefold; whose genius is evident to everyone but her; who showed me what it means to live who you are, as impossible as that sometimes is; who gives me a connection to my mother, even though I don’t understand.
Thank you to my friend Casey, who taught me to be a mother in every action I took, to be who my kids needed me to be even when that wasn’t convenient for me; who taught me about boundaries and structure and providing a safe place for kids to grow; whose friendship gave me strength to weather some of the most difficult parenting years a person could have.
Thank you to my friend Tonya, who sees me.
Thank you to my friends Krista, Andrea, Sally, Carol, Rita, whose paths ran parallel to mine for many years, and from whom I learned grace and patience and dignity; humor and depth and honesty; to whom I looked for a model of how to be a grown up, and found instead flaws and perseverance. Being an adult, being a mother, is something I am always learning how to do, and you showed me how it constantly changes, and, therefore, so must I.
To the women who taught me what *not* to be, how *not* to parent, I owe you gratitude as well. You gave me clear warning signs to keep me from going down paths that would hurt my children, or hurt my relationship with my children, or hurt me. Your behavior was a cautionary tale that prevented me from making your mistakes.
Mother’s Day isn’t just about me and my mother, it’s about all the women who informed who I am as a person, which inexorably–sometimes joyfully, sometimes painfully–includes being a mother. They’ve nurtured and guided and encouraged me, and I am grateful.