A letter to Mom
My mom recently went through a major life transition, and it’s sparked lots of memories and reflection. Mostly about time passing and all the chances I missed to tell her what she means to me.
She’s definitely not the type to seek the spotlight, and she’d probably try to stop me from writing this if she had the chance.
But indulge me as I share this letter, looking ahead to Mother’s Day:
Do you know how much I appreciate you?
Do you know I think about you every day, even though I don’t call as often as I should?
Do you know how many times I’ve looked back and wondered where you found so much patience when we were kids? How incredible it is that I can count the number of times you yelled at me — got cross, really — on one hand? I think of my own record as a parent and wonder, how did you do that?
Do you know how incredible it is that you never complained about being overworked or overwhelmed, despite balancing four kids, a teaching job and long hours of single parenting while Dad worked late?
Do you know I don’t mind that you never had the time to do a baby book for me, the No. 4 child? I will treasure that sheet of paper where you wrote down my silly toddler words and my pet names for my siblings.
Do you know how much it meant when you stood up for me after Sister Rosetta criticized me at a staff meeting in grade school (for being chatty, of course)?
Do you know how much I loved watching “Columbo” and “Murder She Wrote” with you and reading all those mystery books you brought home? How I’ve passed on that tradition with my own kids, who are addicted to shows like “Castle”?
Do you know how much I valued all those late-night conversations we had in high school, when you’d sit up waiting for me to come home so I could vent about my friends or some boy who didn’t know I was alive?
Do you know how thankful I am to have inherited your love of chocolate, good books, movies and Cardinals baseball?
Do you know you were the mom everyone else always wanted? That every time someone offered to trade, I’d just smile and say, “No thanks”?
Do you know I realized how hard you tried not to judge my choices in boyfriends, even when it nearly killed you? I could always tell, but you let me come to the right conclusion on my own, saying only, “Make sure he puts you first.” I never forgot those words.
Do you know how many doubts I had about going away to college, living in D.C., or moving away from home again for a job? How I knew you desperately wanted me to stay close but would never stand in the way of my dreams?
Do you know how unusual it is these days for someone to raise four children with happy marriages and in-laws who all adore you as a second mom?
Do you know how many times a friend has complimented me on a particular shirt or outfit, and I’ve said, “my mom bought it for me”? How you always had good taste but never forced it on us (I’m thinking of a hideous Charlie Chaplin sweater I coaxed you into buying me)?
Do you know I’ve never managed to make fried chicken the way you do? Or your chicken and dumplings?
Do you know that until I had my two kids, I never realized how much you must have loved me?
Do you know that without your help, I never would have survived going back to work after having my firstborn? How my friend at work turned to me one day and said, “Your mom is really holding everything together, isn’t she?”
Do you know when I told my brother you were going to help us out, he said, “There’s nobody better”?
Do you know how lucky your grandchildren are to have someone who treasures them the way you do?
Do you know how many times a week I stop and think, how would Mom handle this? How grateful I am that my sister is so much like you?
Do you know how much everyone admired your faithfulness and diligence when Dad was sick, standing by his hospital bed all day every day for nine months? Truly amazing.
Do you know how proud I am every time we run into one of your former students, and they say you were the best teacher they ever had?
Do you know how much it meant when someone asked you recently what your biggest accomplishment in life was, and you said, “My four kids”?
Do you know what else I remember? The way you’d set aside whatever you were working on when I had a question or needed help, no matter how many papers you still had to grade. The way you and Dad rarely argued in front of us. The way you took in your parents and cared for them when their bodies and minds failed. The way you made every Christmas a family tradition without parallel.
Yes, I noticed. We all noticed.
And it’s time the world noticed, too.
So here’s your spotlight, mom. It’s well-deserved.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Julie Wurth blogs about families and kids and covers the University of Illinois for The News-Gazette. Leave a comment below, or contact her at (217) 351-5226, firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter.com/jawurth.
Photo: My mom, Mary Dolores Wurth, with one of her grandchildren, in front of the Red Grange statute in Champaign. Julie Wurth