today is mother’s day.
yesterday, i stood in a store for an hour running my fingers along shiny boxes of pretty cakes. my standing in this store was the result of hours of planning days before. i thought, long and hard, for the perfect gift for my boyfriend’s mother. you have always taught me to acknowledge and respect someone’s mother, especially the mothers of who we love.
“what’s his mother like?” you always ask me. “does she ask about you? has she met you? does she worry about what you eat?” you care, you’ve told me, because you hope she’ll care for me.
and as i gingerly placed the sweets in a tissued box i picked out for her, and tied an elegant bow across the top, i realized that i didn’t have a box for you. where are my mother’s pretty cakes? where is her carefully picked box and elegant bow?
why hadn’t i thought long and hard for your perfect gift? after all, it is mother’s day and you, you, are my mother.
i can not hand you a box that i’ve wrapped myself, so instead i’ll write to you about my life–because after thinking long and hard for the perfect present for you, i’ve decided that the best gift i can give you is the reassurance that i’m okay.
i live thousands of miles away and you can not see what i wear or eat or what time i come home, but i want to tell you that when it’s cold outside, i dress warm. when i’m hungry, i eat well. and even though i come home late often, i arrive safely.
every morning i wake up, rested. my bed is soft, and it is always there to cradle me after a long day. i go to work monday through friday to a job that may not pay as much as you had hoped but is consistent and satisfying. i know you wanted a genius doctor daughter who saves lives, but i’d like to think my work as a teacher is just as intellectually stimulating and, too, touches lives.
i am in a loving relationship that, while causes me great frustration at times, always allows me to feel loved. my partner is kind and patient and has challenged me to grow. his thinking, you’d be surprised to know, is completely opposite of mine–and i’ve learned that that’s okay. i’ve learned to love someone who is so unlike myself, it’s amazing.
i know you often worry if there’s someone who will care for me, whether it be the person next to me or his mother, but i write you this letter to let you know that you’ve raised me to love and care for myself.
i will always ensure that i am warm, fed, safe, comfortable, financially stable, intellectually stimulated and satisfied, and loved—even if i only have the love of my mother and myself, i’ll be okay.
you’ve taught me love and care in its purest form that i can only love and care for myself with the same utmost attention.
when i was young and scraped my knees, when i broke my arm after falling 10 feet, when i pierced my tongue and lip, when i snuck out of the house, when i said “i love you” to boys who didn’t deserve it, you had always told me i would understand the hurt i had caused you when i become a mother.
but i think i understand now, even though i am not a mother. respecting myself, taking good care of myself, is a reflection of my respect and care for you. therefore, i will always practice deliberate self-care and self-love.
i will love and respect myself, and i will live well. so please don’t worry about me (though i know telling a mother not to worry is like telling the sun not to shine). i will always be okay–no matter how far apart we are or who is standing beside me.
happy mother’s day, mom.