To My Dear Mother

My mom’s birthday was February 15th. I haven’t known what to say to her but I guess this is it.

To My Dear Mother,

I am so very tired all the time. Struggling to exist in a world that deems you invisible can be exhausting. Sometimes I want to be ignored because that means at least you’re leaving me alone. I prefer to be unbothered but sometimes all I ever wanted was to be loved without conditions. 

You taught me how to make the most of being poor. I grew up eating Campbell’s chicken noodle soup and pudding cups because I was a picky eater. And because it was all you could get me to eat. And because it was cheap. Hey, at least I was eating. I remember going to Burger King, Or McDonalds, Or Chickfila occasionally and that was always a special treat. Going out to eat was a luxury. 

Sometimes all you wanted to do was just go to the grocery store without three small children in tow but most of the time you didn’t have a choice. You would drag us along with you. We would help select groceries and you would bribe us with candy if we behaved and listened well. This was our ritual. We didn’t know we were poor. 

You somehow managed to keep that a secret. With WIC and coupons as much as possible. Cooking meals at home and begging your picky eaters to eat what you cooked. By picky eaters I mostly mean me and I’m sorry for that. You took care of our basic needs as best you could even though your life didn’t prepare you for motherhood in the ways it should have. 

You created a life that was better for us than it was for you. But dear mother, you could only work with the tools you were given. Dear mother, you were abused too. You had a father and mother who fought. A father who was controlling and angry all the time. A mother who was scared all the time. And you grew up way too fast. So did I. You looked to me for guidance in your parenting. Were you too harsh on my sisters and I when I misbehaved, you asked? Were you doing a good job? Constantly looking for affirmation from your oldest child when you needed that from your husband who, while kinder than your father, was still that authority in your life. 

I am sorry for any grief I have caused you in this life. I have only wanted to be myself and escape a miserable life that was waiting for me if I stayed where you were. You could only work with the tools that you were given but what if you had new ones? What if you could escape too. What if you could be yourself without judgment or control? I wonder who you would be then. My dear mother, I love you and I’m thankful for you. You have done the best you could with the tools you were given and you have loved your family well. 

You taught me to love Jesus and I still do. That will never change. Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Jesus loves me as I am and I hope that one day you will come to accept and love me as I am too. Until then just know that I love you very much.

Love,

HL

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