Happy Mother’s Day to everyone in Spain and happy future Mother’s Day to those of you in the USA. This will always be a day that I’m fond of. Those of you who know me personally may be wondering why I just said that as the truth is, my mom passed away almost a year and a half ago. True, this could be a day where I cry, and feel all the feelings of anger and frustration. And some people who have lost their mother may be in that place, and that place is 100% okay. We all handle the death of someone close to us in different ways because we are all different people. That’s what makes the world beautiful.
However today I thought I would use my little space on the internet to write a letter to my mom. Even though she is not on earth, I want to take this time to really appreciate her and say thanks. That is what I would do if she was still alive, after all.
To the best mom ever,
Hi mom. Happy Mother’s Day! Today is a mixture of sweet and sour for me. So today I thought I would embrace the sweet part and write a letter to you. You always loved reading anything I wrote, after all.
Thank you for your support
I loved that one of your classic phrases was “I’ll always be your cheerleader.” So often growing up, I laughed at how corny that sounded. But it was true. You were always there to support me, in whatever it was. You showed up to all sporting events, recitals and whatever other event it may have been. In university, I worked at the student newspaper. Even though the articles were available online, you had to have the newspaper mailed to so that you could read them in that form. You wanted to save what I wrote, I suppose. The thing about this blog is that I started it while you were in the hospital and in a state where you could not do too much. However if you were still in good health, I know that you would have read every single post and left comments. Even though they’re not there as I write, I know that your spirt is there as I write.
As an adult, we developed a really nice relationship. While you didn’t really text, you were always on Facebook. So we had a forever long message thread between the two of us about anything and everything. You’d think of something and message me. I’d have a funny story to tell you and I’d send a message. I just miss being able to tell you about my day. I’d have so much I’d want to tell you about my life in Spain. I have stories upon stories about all the cute children I teach, the friends I’ve made, the places I’ve traveled to and the things I’ve learned about all the cultures I’ve experienced. I think one of the biggest ways you supported both Nick and I was just always being there. Whether we were in tears or laughing, we could contact you whenever and you would be there to listen. That is what being a good mother is about … just listening.
Thank you for not being the cool mom
You never cared about doing the “cool” or “in” thing. You just simply cared about doing what was best for your children. And for us as kids, that often meant that you did “uncool” things that kept us safe and happy. Of course as kids, we never really saw it that way. Nick and I always joke about how you would put too much sunblock on us, if that was even possible (and we all know you probably thought there was no such thing as too much sunblock). Or you never let us wear those jelly sandals, as cute as I may have thought they were. You knew that kids just want to run and play, so tennis shoes were always the best option. In fact now as a teacher, I find myself slightly worrying when I see kids on the play ground running around in anything other than tennis shoes. We would laugh because you made us all wear the same color shirt and hat to Kings Island (amusement park outside of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA) so that we would easily be spotted in a crowd.
And then of course there was my peanut allergy. At the age of 1, we found out while grocery shopping that peanuts and peanut products (the butter and the oil too) create an anaphylactic shock reaction for me if I consume them. My throat swells and closes up, I get hives and basically could die if not rushed to the hospital. I know mom that this was one of the most frightening days for you as a parent. I cannot imagine. So after the reaction was taken care of, I was diagnosed with a peanut allergy and prescribed an epi pen that I have to give myself if I ever eat peanuts. Mom, I remember initially being so embarrassed to have to wear that emergency bracelet to school. I was embarrassed that you told literally every teacher. I was embarrassed that it was made into such a big deal because some kids were mean and made fun of me.
Looking back, though, I know you were just doing every single thing you could do as a parent to ensure my safety. Thank you. You would be so happy with how seriously I take my allergy as an adult. I know exactly how to ask if something has peanuts in Spanish. I always read the ingredients in the store. And before I travel to a new country, I research their level of peanut use in common dishes. I know all of this makes you happy.
In an odd way, you not being the cool mom made me trust you even more. Growing up, I always knew that you would make the right decision, even if it wasn’t the popular decision. And it was always coming from a place of love. So thank you for always doing what was best.
Thank you for letting me be me
I accredit much of my self-confidence to you. You never had some preconceived notion for what you wanted me to do or study. You simply wanted Nick and I to be ourselves. Neither of us really sought after careers that would make us a lot of money, and that never bothered you one bit. At the end of the day, the only things that really mattered to you were that we were happy and that we were doing what we loved. That has really helped me to simply just do that. That’s why I worked in both the non-profit and education fields. That influenced why I started a blog and why I moved to Spain. In life, I simply go after what makes me happy.
Thank you for leading by example
You and dad were who taught Nick and I wrong from right. I remember you always said the most important value you wanted us to have was to treat every creature with respect. That value that you instilled in me, mom, is what lead me to do so many things that I’ve done. That is what led me to work with homeless people right out of college, to pursue activism both in DC and with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, that is what led me to work at Su Casa Hispanic Center and what led me to work with children. It wasn’t just that you told us to treat everyone with love and respect.
We also saw you live it out in the way that you treated people and the way that you cared about people. I always tell people that if someone didn’t like you, that had to be their problem. I mean how could someone dislike you when you were genuinely kind to everyone you met? All of mine and Nick’s friends loved you, and you cared about them like they were your own children. And you made any person who stepped foot into our home welcome. I learned to treat everyone with love and respect because you showed me how it was done. Thank you.
What I wish
I just wish I could spend time with you. I loved how we would watch different series and movies together. I think that started when I learned how to read. When I was maybe 8 or 9, we would read chapter book series such as Anne of Green Gables or Little House on the Prairie before I went to sleep. Then as I got older, we would watch series and movies together such as Friends, The Hunger Games and Downton Abbey. I just miss watching TV with you.
When I went to Liverpool, I went on the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour. I kept thinking about how I would love to have you there with me. You would have been so excited to see their childhood homes and go to the Cavern Club, the place they played many concerts in. Then we could have gone out to Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey was filmed. It would have been so much fun to explore England with you.
So today on Mother’s Day in Spain (and next week on US Mother’s Day) I just want to say thank you. I feel so very lucky to have had you as my mom. I always say that I would rather have had you for 28 years of my life than anyone else.