I am sorry to say that I am guilty of not truly seeing you while I was growing up. I was definitely not the easiest child — dramatic, fiery, and stubborn — in contrast to my soft-spoken, gentle and accommodating younger sister. Growing up I never understood how you were able to be so diplomatic, even tempered, and graceful in all that you did. Now I realize, I never really saw you, I just saw “my mom.”
“My mom.” What a ubiquitous phrase. Something that should be said with reverence and held high is so often tossed aside, overlooked and taken for granted — by children, society and sadly, even by myself. We have no concept of the weight of that title until it is crowned upon our very heads.
It never occurred to me that sitting in the Wal-Mart bathroom singing at the top of my lungs would be anything other than a pleasure to behold. Yet there you were, patient and sweet, asking, “Are you almost done?” You could have yelled at me, insisting that I not be indulged, but you sacrificed yourself to stand and listen to “Somewhere over the Rainbow” over and over again.
A Growing Perspective
As I grew older, my view of you morphed. I began to see you as — dare I say — a woman, as opposed to just “my mom.” You have always been beautiful, and I recognized that, but those short shorts, legs for miles and peek of a toned midriff were bold! Even more so with two goofy looking kids running around.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but you were making a statement to anyone that chose to underestimate you. You celebrated your femininity and took strength in your womanhood.
I suddenly noticed and understood your wit and sarcasm during my high school years. You never took anything sitting down, and if someone told you that you couldn’t do something, you would not only achieve the unattainable, but do it with class.
The silence that I always thought was blind assent was really stoic determination. I look back now and think, “How could I not have noticed?”
You grew up in a tiny, mostly segregated town, and even so you were taught how to assert yourself. Growing up I heard stories about your courage, but I never fully understood how my grandparents molded you to push boundaries and redefine terms. I never really saw all of this in you.
The Many Sides of Mom
It’s easy to see someone as a static symbol of what they are to you, and you alone. As mothers, we are multi-faceted. You have taught me this. You maintain tradition with my father at the head of the household, leading most decisions with you by his side. Yet you also rebuke tradition every day by being the one who brings in the majority of the household income. I grew up with this as the norm, but I have since realized just how rare this dynamic is.
As my mother you are the wise and gentle calm in the storm of chaos that can sometimes be my life. Yet somehow still you are the storm and lightening strike of endless energy when playing with my boys as grandma. You can dance with abandon to the Beatles just as easily as you dole out sage advice whenever I need it.
At work you lead with charisma and fairness, while as a student you listen and wrestle with annotations and scholarly writing, just like the rest of us. You inspire people to work hard, and succeed even as you continue to soldier on to “one more chapter” of your doctoral thesis.
I See You
What I am trying to say is: I am so excited to finally see you as a person. As Eva.
I see you now not just mom, boss, or wife, but as the brilliant, effervescent, multi-faceted diamond that you are.
Somewhere along the line as your daughter I missed that. I saw only one part of the amazing you. Never did it occur to me that one day I may become just “mom” to someone else.
I know that for now I am only “mom” to them. I hope that someday my kids will realize that I have more to me, too, than just being their mom. They will look at my old pictures and say, “Mom, you did WHAT?! You went WHERE?!”
Even though they don’t see it now, and they may not see it ten years from now, eventually, if I do my job right, they will see me. Jennifer. Jenn. I hope I can make them proud. I hope someday they will realize that their bold, adventurous, crazy streaks may just be a bit of “mom” in them, too.