This letter is in response to the daily prompt from earlier this month:
Today is Mother’s Day in the United States. Wherever in the world you are, write your mother a letter.
I just have one question for you. How did you do it?
Now that I’m a mom, the things that I took for granted while I was growing up seem like monumental achievements, and I wonder how you managed.
How did you simultaneously care for twin newborns and a precocious toddler? When did you sleep or eat or shower? What were you thinking as your babies were crying and your eldest was clamouring for your attention? Thank you for always making all of us seem loved and important and like we were a priority, even though you had a thousand other responsibilities.
When did you find the time to teach us all to read before we started kindergarten? How did you manage to help each of us with our homework and science fairs and school projects? Thank you for instilling in each of us a life-long love of learning and for playing an active role in our education all the way from preschool to university.
Where did you find the time and money and energy to involve us in so many extra-curricular activities? You sat through dance recitals and airband concerts, swimming lessons and karate tournaments. You picked us up and dropped us off from Brownies and Beavers meetings. You helped us rehearse poems for Speech, Arts, and Drama and put together costumes for Christmas concerts. And I never once heard you complain, even though there must have been times that you would have rather just crawled into bed instead of driving the thirty minutes into town to get us to another lesson. Thank you for a childhood of memories and experiences that have enriched me as a person.
How did you manage to get a healthy, home-cooked meal on the table every night, even when you were working full-time? Eating out was such a rarity, I remember going to McDonald’s with a friend in elementary school and not even knowing what or how to order. Thank you for teaching me the importance of nutrition and sitting down as a family for dinner every night. Thank you for teaching me how to cook, and for making it fun by letting us be responsible for choosing recipes and helping you make them.
How did you keep adult worries from plaguing our childhoods? I never heard you discuss money or any of the other issues that must have consumed a working mom with a husband and three kids. Thank you for preserving my childhood and letting me a kid. Thank you for having the strength to keep those things from us, even though I’m sure there were times that you wanted to say something in front of us. Thank you for making home a safe place.
How could you keep on giving all of these things (and more) in the face of tantrums and complaining and “I hate you”s? How could you keep on going, year after year, knowing that your children wouldn’t truly know the depth of your sacrifice until they had children of their own? Were there days when you wanted to run away and never come back? Thank you for putting up with us when we were ungrateful and mean and for not turning your back on us, even if, at the time, we deserved it.
You’ve set the bar high, and I hope that I can be even half of the mom that you are. I don’t know how you did it, but thank you.