Thank you for giving me life and the freedom to do whatever I wanted with it. You never clipped my wings the way that many other parents do. You never thought any dream was impossible for me to achieve and you taught me how to live with my entire heart. You taught me not to fear the consequences of failure. You taught me how to be a boss bitch within a world that reeks of machismo. My opportunities never felt confined to social-norms. You presented me with all the many faces that a matriarch could wear.
Thank you for showing me true love and the selflessness that it arises from. You single-handedly raised me and my brothers, working multiple jobs and giving up many of your dreams to make sure we had everything we needed.
Before you and dad divorced, I assume life was much easier on you. You would dance around the kitchen with me on your hip, singing Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” like it was written for me. I can close my eyes and still remember the struggles of the beginning- after you had finally built up enough courage to walk away from an unhappy marriage, not knowing how you would ever be able to manage a life on your own. I remember that old house on Clemwood and those pesky mice that we could never defeat. I remember the privacy fence that Sheeba would hop over to chase the mailman. I remember the old shed out back that Chris eventually set fire to. I remember the day when we were finally going to buy our very own home and the excitement on your face. I remember walking into your current home, a block away from the beach, thinking this is where I’m going to grow up. That huge backyard, the pecan tree, the fish pond- it felt like a dream. (Even more so now that all of those things are gone.)
I remember the beautiful music that you filled that house with every day when you sat in front of your piano. Your fingers danced across the keys like they were expressing every single feeling that you dare not speak of. I remember all the times you had to warm up my bath water from the stove-top and you would apologize to me for not being able to give me everything that I wanted, not knowing that you already had.
I remember my night terrors. I’d wake up each night drenched in sweat and walk into Chris’ room and curl up on the floor beside his bed while he slept. I was always afraid to wake him because we never got along well as children and I knew he would send me back out if he noticed my presence. I eventually started walking downstairs to your room and cuddled up to you. You made me feel safe and never told me to leave. I stayed there until the day that I moved out- something many people would not understand, but you never questioned it.
Thank you for being so unconventional. My childhood inspires so much of my current-day creativity. You always let me and my imagination run wild. You will always be the reason for everything that I am.
Thank you for hanging in there. I’m sorry things weren’t always as great as they could have been. I’m sorry I was (and sometimes still am) such a selfish little bitch when you were the opposite. The things that you did for me never went unnoticed, even when I forgot to thank you. The ugliness helped me grow and taught me things that I otherwise would have never known. I’m sorry I rushed into growing up and moving out, but I know that you, more than anyone else, understood.
Thank you for showing me how to be a mother. I hope that when I have kids I can believe in them as much as you believed in us. I hope that I can put them before myself, the way that you taught me.
This will always be one of my favorite songs because I immediately flash back to the early days when it was just us four. We would ride around in your ’98 Camaro with the T-tops out and when Mick would sing “mmm life is a bitch”, Michael and Chris would jump up and scream it at the top of their lungs. They felt so cool being able to curse and I sat in the backseat, laughing and feeling whole. Everything was right in the world.
I love you like I’ll never love anyone else and I’m grateful to be able to celebrate you tomorrow (and every other day). From the very depths of my soul, thank you, mom.
Your brown-eyed girl