I never realized how much you loved us until I had children of my own.
I never knew how much you sacrificed. I saw pictures of you when you were young, beautiful, and carefree. You were always beautiful, but my description of you would never be that. I’d have described you as a safe place and a warm hug, always there.
You didn’t work when we were growing up, you stayed at home. Sometimes you talked about how you used to be a teacher, and I never realized what a sacrifice it was that you gave up your career for us. I didn’t think about how you went to college, grad school, and student taught. How you worked hard to get to where you were. I always thought you stopped teaching because you wanted to, but now I know it also didn’t make sense for you to continue working. The cost of daycare or a nanny for three children would have exceeded your salary, and you were forced to stop. Though you loved being home with us, a part of you probably missed having a career.
I remember when you tried to go back. When you taught at night and also worked as a substitute teacher. But it didn’t work out because all those hours at work took away from everything you did at home and the juggling act was too hard to maintain.
You didn’t have any help, so you did it all.
I never realized how important those trips you took with Dad were. Sometimes you went away for a weekend and I never understood it. I just remember missing you and crying a lot when you left, probably making you question if it was a good idea to leave us. I didn’t realize you needed a tiny break from being a mom. I never knew you probably didn’t feel like a woman, that you lost yourself in motherhood. I know now you were nurturing your relationship. Healthy marriages take work, even though you made it look easy.
Oh, Mom, I never knew how much you felt my pains. You never let on. When I didn’t make the school play or cheerleading. When I had fights with friends, and when I didn’t like certain teachers. You always hugged me and supported me, but I never could have understood how much it hurt you, too. You’d tell me everything was going to be fine, that certain people didn’t matter, that my talents lay elsewhere. I didn’t ever see the part of you that probably felt the disappointment, too. I never knew you were hoping you said the right thing to make me feel better, you just did. Every time.
I didn’t know you had your own disappointments and struggles. You always seemed fine. But as a mom now, I’m still a person with my own insecurities and issues. I have my own friendships to work on and I care about balancing things in life. I get irritable or tired or bored. You made it look effortless. Like you were living some easy life. You hid it all, you didn’t burden us.
And I never knew how much you loved us, how deep it went. You said it, we said it. We were always affectionate. You cried at our graduations. I didn’t know how significant all that must have felt for you. Now that I have my own children and I see their lives flying by, I know you must have felt scared, excited, elated, and a little sad to let go. It’s hard to release your babies into the world, yet you did it three times.
I hope one day my children know about me, Mom.
It may not have felt like it at the time, but you were perfect.