Friday, May 12, 2017

Dear Daughter

Well, it is almost Mother's Day again, and as usual my emotions are all over the place.This year I am making the difficult decision not to spend the day with my extended family, so I want to explain that to my daughter in this letter.

Dear Daughter,

We will be spending Mother's Day at church in the morning, then at the ballpark, and then at some random restaurant that your father selected to make up for the fact that we will be at the baseball game. We will not be spending it with your Gamma and the rest of the family.

This decision does not require too much of an explanation because I can quickly and efficiently tell you that I just do not wish to spend the day with everyone else. I do not wish to worry about whether my Mother is eating and then spend half the time attending to her, then you, and then come home hungry and exhausted. I do not wish to pretend that I am on the best of terms with everyone assembled, and I don't want to give anyone the excuse that my presence made it necessary for them to back out at the last minute. And in the midst of family drama, I am not interested in being congenial around strangers.

For the first time, I am going to claim that Mother's Day is for me, too. I am not going to walk around in a tiara or a sash that declares me to be Mother of the Year (because we know that I am not, especially after my recent FB posts). I am not expecting any special gifts or extra niceties, nor do I intend to demand anything to prove your love to me as you get older. I just want to spend the day with my family engaged in an activity that we enjoy.

It would be nice to have a spa day or to receive some really nice, thoughtful gift. It would be nice to do more than eat out. It would be nice to receive a bouquet of flowers or a box of candy that won't get consumed by someone else. It would be nice to spend time with my extended family under better circumstances. It would be nice if your abuela was still alive or if your grandmother could notice you. But life is not always nice.

Dear daughter, beyond the celebration of this day, I want you to know how much I enjoy being your mother, even when you drive me insane (as evidenced by my recent FB posts). I think that for me, honoring this day will be more about taking time to appreciate why this journey is so special. And in so doing, I can spend time with my mother and not hang on to any lingering resentments from Mother's Days past. Because Lord knows, this has been an unpleasant obligation for the past 20 years.

Yes. I have hated Mother's Day ever since I came home from law school.

Our first Mother's Day occurred a month after you arrived and while it was nice to be surrounded by family, it was more about celebrating you. Last year I was frustrated at your father for some reason. So this year I have adjusted my expectations. It is just a day. So if it is to be memorable occasion, then I need to make it special for myself by choosing to just enjoy the day. Maybe in the future, that might mean something different, like special activities that you and I enjoy on our own.

I have finally come to a place where I can make peace with my Mother. It is because of her that I am here, but it is because of you that I can celebrate this day. I've had anxiety for years that I was not the ideal daughter, and the truth is that I may never be. However, I am a good enough daughter and for too long I have been awaiting validation without realizing that on my own. The expectation should always have been for me to simply be present...grand gestures are nothing if there is no substance in the movements. And I guess it took having you to realize that.

So dear daughter, YOU are enough. Remind me that I wrote this in case you feel unworthy or that you need to do something to impress me. You are here. The other day you sat still long enough in play group to have your hand painted for my Mother's Day card. I appreciate that because you hardly ever sit still for anything other than your favorite TV shows. You are the most on every level--rambunctious, emotional, frustrating, spirited, thankful, intelligent, sweet, adorable...I could keep going, but you need aspirations for when you turn three. Your life gives me every reason not to lose hope in my life.

I have no idea if my Mother ever felt that way about me, but I know how I feel about her so it doesn't matter. I may never be able to write a tribute grand enough to describe her, but I think the point is that I would be able to write something to express what she means to me. She means the world to me, just as you do. Since some sentiments aren't easy to compress into 800 or so words, I will just say thank you.

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