Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Dear Mom,

You bundled me in pink snowsuits and tied my hair in pink headbands and sang to me and took me for walks and set up playdates and fed me baby quiche. From the first moment you showed me that the world was big and exciting and full of tastes and colors and people and charm and beauty and adventure.

You read me book after book after book after book and two and a half decades later I can still hear your voice reading Goodnight, Moon andI'll Love You Forever. On the surface life is more complicated now but the moon still comes up and every night the world still goes to sleep and I know now more than I did then that you really will love me forever.

Years later we read other books together, grown-up books, and you are still the best person to call when I need to rant about a British novel. 

Sometimes when Daddy had to work into the small hours of the morning you would let me stay up late into the night with you while you worked on projects to make our home beautiful. You didn't know it at the time, but you taught me that some things, like beauty and the people you love, are more important than sleep.

You taught me long division and made me painstakingly write out the steps. Divide. Multiply. Subtract. Compare. Bring Down. Over and over and over. I'd want to move faster and skip the steps and then the numbers would come out wrong and you'd remind me that steps can't be skipped. Sometimes now I get frustrated and want to hurry and then life gets tangled and I remember again that, in life like in long division, sometimes steps can't be skipped.

You taught me how to bake and reminded me to level the flour because sometimes the directions need to be followed exactly. Now I bake in a kitchen far away and I subconsciously tap the measuring cup and level the flour just like you showed me, carrying your words into every loaf of bread and batch of cookies that I make.

You made me pink cakes with rosebuds and blew up colored balloons and set beautiful tables for every one of my birthdays. You made sure my dress was just right for every recital because you know that every girl needs to feel like a princess, not once, but many many many times.

You made me practice when I didn't want to because sometimes little girls and big girls too have to follow through when they don't feel like working. "Feel the music, Emily," you would urge. And I remember every day that I can still make art right where I am even when I would rather  be doing something else.

I remember the countless times that people remarked that I looked like you. I loved it when people said this because I knew that you were beautiful and I wanted to be just like you. I still do.

From you I learned how to use candles and cloth napkins and mascara. You've taught me to send thank-you notes and take hostess gifts and how to make people feel welcome even if the food is served on paper plates.

You never tolerated sulking and knew that the best antidote to bad moods was action and movement and service and laughter. I remember that, on days when I just don't want to get out of bed or face the world or try, on days when I just want to stay under the covers alone where it's safe. But you're always right.

And sometimes we argue because that's what happens when you raise someone as strong-willed as yourself. Sometimes I wonder if you really knew what you were getting yourself into when you decided that motherhood was the most important job in the world. And I wonder if, in the dark of the night, you really think it was worth it.

Deep down I know that I scare you sometimes. That sometimes you are afraid that I might just be a little too reckless, too headstrong, too naive, too optimistic. That sometimes you wonder if you did something wrong.

But really, I'm the one who should be scared. You give away love and grace with unconditional abandon every day of your life. And I don't know that I have what it takes to do that. 

There's nothing riskier or scarier or more reckless than giving away your life for imperfect people. But you do that every day of your life.
Sometimes I wonder if I can ever love a man and children as faithfully and well and completely as you have loved Daddy and me and my brothers and sisters. But if I do, it will be due to nothing more than to the grace of God and your example in front of me every single day.

You've given me books and dresses and piano lessons and time and cupcakes, but mostly, you've showed me what it really means to love. 

Thank you, Mommy. I love you!


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Emily. This is beautiful...a lovely, lovely, Mother's Day Gift. I love you.


Anonymous said...

Gorgeous :) just like your mother, and you.

Gwen said...

Really beautiful letter, Emily!!

Emily said...

Thank you all! I'm glad you enjoyed it.