To My Mom

“My mother never gave me any idea that I couldn’t do whatever I wanted to do or be whomever I wanted to be. She filled our house with love and fun and books and music, unflagging in her efforts to give me role models from Jane Austen to Eudora Welty to Patti Smith. As she guided me through these incredible eighteen years, I don’t know if she ever realized that the person I most wanted to be was her.”

-Gilmore Girls

I’ve always been a momma’s girl.

Since I was a little girl, I have worshipped my mom. My mother is a nurse, a cancer survivor, a mother of three, a style icon through the decades, my best friend and my biggest supporter. She managed to pivot her career as a nurse into a career as a leader in healthcare supply chain consulting, but she can also sew a children’s Halloween costume at a moment’s notice and make a gourmet meal from cupboard scraps. With my mom around I always feel safe and as though no matter how uncertain things can feel, everything will be okay. I think many people would say their parents make them feel safe, but anyone who has ever met my mom would say there is something special about her. In the most trying of times, especially now throughout the coronavirus crisis, she has a way of bringing comfort and reason to anyone who is in need.

I always knew my mother was a hero, but the gravity of my respect for my mom increased when I became the age she was when she had me. My mom was within days of her 24th birthday when she gave birth to me in August of 1994. She took her nursing final exams when she was 7 months pregnant with me, and walked the stage at graduation with me under her gown! As I hurdle towards the age of 26, admittedly still completely unsure of who I am or where my place is in this world, I can’t believe that at this age my mom was chasing around a two year old. To be honest, I can’t even fathom how my mom was working 12-16 hour days as a psychiatric nurse at the age of 26, let alone doing that and then coming home to a toddler. It is incredibly humbling whenever I feel overwhelmed by my own responsibilities to think about the fact that, as of right now, I only have to worry about myself. In my whole childhood, even when things must have been impossibly difficult, my mom never complained or made me feel like anything she did for me was her own sacrifice.

The crazy thing is that all of the sacrifices that my mom made, she made so that I wouldn’t have to. She worked endless shifts to pay off her student loans so that I wouldn’t have so many. She sacrificed her own time and sanity so that she would never miss a Girl Scout meeting or a volleyball game. She traveled non-stop for work so that our family could afford to see the world, a privilege that ultimately inspired me to move abroad. That must be the most heartbreaking irony of motherhood: the reward that my mom gets for doing such an incredible job is me moving halfway across the world to chase my dreams. Everything I do is to make my mom proud, but I know she’d be just as proud of me if I was back home and stopping by for dinner once a week.

My mom has set the bar for being a strong woman incredibly high. She can make a Thanksgiving dinner with twelve separate dishes and somehow they all manage to be served out of the oven and warm at the same time. If you have ever cooked for more than two people, you know this is sorcery. She can get the most stubborn of stains out of clothes. She somehow managed to raise me to never be afraid to tell her the truth, which meant I never felt like I had to lie. I don’t know when I’ll be a mom and I can’t imagine that I’ll ever be half that mom she is. But, whether it’s during the times of a pandemic crisis or personal heartbreak, I know that as long as my mom is around that I always have someone I can call crying and somehow hang up laughing.

There is absolutely no chance I will ever be able to repay or even thank my mom for everything that she has done and continues to do for me every single day, even from thousands of miles away. So for now, until I can figure it out, I will just tell my mom thank you, I love you, please live to be at least 102, and I can’t wait to see you soon.

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