A Letter to My Mom

Dear Mom,

You are forever 30 in my mind, which is weird since I’m 37. As I was cleaning my house and getting rid of so many things, I saw this photo of us. I framed it about 10 years ago because I just loved it so much.

I put it in my purse because I just wanted to have it on my desk at work where I can see it more often. We have so many great pictures and even better memories, I wondered why this picture means so much to me. Obviously, your hair and sunglasses are amazing, but I think it’s the way that you’re holding me and the way I am holding on to you. My protector, my guide and my nurturer. As an adult, I realize that what you are most is my compass. You will forever be who I turn to when I am unsure about which direction to go or what path to take. I come to you when I am happy, when I have good news or bad news and most of all, when I need to remember who I am. You are home to me.

As I have journeyed through life thus far, I’ve realized that what I have in the way of family is the exception. People aren’t this lucky, this blessed, or this loved. I often joke that I should be better because I have the absolute best parents and you always say, “no, you are so good”. You always lifted me up and made me believe that I could do anything. Thank you. I never doubted that I was capable, smart, strong, kind, beautiful and worthy because of you. Thank you.

I know that right now you would say that it is God in you that I see. His love, His grace, His compassion and wisdom. You are right, and I acknowledge that completely because the other gift you have given me is faith. Thank you.

When I think back to being a child or a teenager, all I can say is, I get it now. I used to wonder why you worried so much, why you cared so much, why you did so much. I get it now. I would move mountains and fight tigers for my kids and I worry far too much.

Even today, you are constantly giving your time and attention to your kids and grandkids. When I thank you, you say that you feel so blessed that you can help. Seriously, the world needs more of you and I think…what a different world it would be if more people had mothers like you. A mom who shows up, who loves unconditionally, who is humble and constantly evolving. What a difference that would make.

I can’t imagine I will ever be an age that I don’t need you. I will always need you. I am so grateful that I can hear your voice in my head. Before you say it, yes, it’s all good things!

A lot of parents give their kids hundreds of reasons to get therapy. Thanks for not doing that and letting me go out and create my own reasons. Ha! C’mon, you know I had to lighten the mood.

I love you with every ounce of my soul. I hope I only get better, evolve and make you proud. Lord knows I am proud that you’re my mom.

Thank you for letting me see you and know you completely. It is by far the biggest gift of all. Because you did, I know that it’s ok to:

Make mistakes

Worry

Love so hard I might actually burst

Force people to eat every time they come to my house

Make a mess

Dance in the kitchen

Have empathy

Get mad when it’s warranted

Have the second glass of wine

Make time for my girlfriends

Pick up a good book in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep

Talk to myself

Laugh at myself

Stand up for myself

Draw boundaries in life

Love myself

Forgive myself

Move on

Thank you for the loving way you held me in that swing and for holding me in your heart every single day.

I am my Mother’s daughter, and nothing makes me happier. I love you.

Love, Dolly

P.S. Pops, your letter is coming ❤

Show Up

Sometimes, life is unfair and downright fucked up. This is something most of us learned as children.

For me, I was in elementary school and had to pull my card for allegedly talking. I actually wasn’t talking, but my teacher did not want to hear me out and I had to pull my card anyway.

The smug little girl who WAS talking and knew full well the injustice that was happening right before her devious eyes just sat there.

While I knew she clearly wasn’t getting into Heaven, I was still upset. In fact, I was so upset that I began to cry and my teacher made me pull my card AGAIN for crying. The satisfaction of knowing that now both of them would be rotting in Hell still wasn’t enough to console me.

This memory stuck with me. Sometimes unfair things happen. Even worse still, we usually can’t do anything about it. It’s a part of life. I get it….but still, fuck that.

I am happy to tell you that the evil little girl who didn’t own up to talking in class grew up to be a woman whose husband left her for another woman. Sad, really. She could have avoided all of that pain had she just admitted she was the one talking and pulled her card. Let that be a lesson to you all.

I know, that’s a silly story and a minor injustice, but what do we do when the really unfair things happen, and we can’t do anything about it? What do we do when we can’t console ourselves or the ones we love? What happens to our hearts and minds when the unfairness is too much to bear?

I don’t have any answers for you. Many of us have faith in a greater power and that brings some peace and comfort, but not always right away and very often we are still left not understanding why certain things happen.

Here’s what I do know…

When times get tough and things are unfair, it helps to have amazing people around you. By amazing, I mean strong people who have empathy and give love. If you don’t already have these people in your life, get some.

I’ll share some of the best parts of the people who keep me sane (sort of) and give me a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen when I need it.

They dance. They dance like fools and like everybody is watching, but they don’t give a shit.

They laugh. Not only do they laugh at my jokes to the point of snorting (you know who you are), they also make me laugh and know how important laughter is. This includes enjoying stupid/lame jokes that only we think are funny.

They sympathize. Even if they don’t know exactly what you’re going through, they listen with compassion and try to understand.

They empathize. Even better, they know exactly what you’re going through, and you don’t feel alone.

They drink. Let’s face it, I’m gonna need you to have a cocktail or three with me because days are hard.

They sit by your side. They’ve seen your ugly cry face. They’ve seen you overreact. They’ve seen you without makeup. And still, they sit next to you.

They don’t judge. There is no “right way” to do this thing called life and they know this. They’ve made the same mistake 12 times, just to be sure it was really a mistake. We’re all still figuring some things out and that’s ok.

They dislike all the same people you do. We don’t wear pink on Wednesdays, but you still can’t sit with us. Like, ever.

They think you’re beautiful, inside and out. They not only think it, they tell you. We build each other up. The world will tear us down, but we won’t do that to each other.

They believe the best of you. Others will assume the worst of you, but your people should always see the good in you and tell you so.

Most importantly…

They show up. At a moment’s notice and sometimes without you even asking because they just know.

To my people who are all of these things and more, I love you and thank you. We have a safe place to go when we need to unwind or vent or cry or laugh and that place is with each other. We can’t always fix each other’s hurt or make the terrible things better, but we can show up and be with each other.

There is something devastatingly beautiful about the pain that makes us vulnerable in life. We become so open and exposed that others have a chance to pour love and healing into our hearts and our wounds.

Even when my heart is heavy, it is full. And that is a gift.