The day I found out I was going to be a mom, it was a surprise. My thoughts drifted back to when I was a little girl, chasing animals across the dusty, West Texas landscape, day-dreaming of what it might feel like to hold your tiny pink, swaddled form in my arms. I told all of my animal friends about my future daughters; how I would braid their hair, teach them to read, and they would learn to be storytellers like me. I pictured these little girls, and what they would be like before I even knew what it meant to be a mother. I always knew I wanted to be a mom.
I wanted to be your mom. I think we are all placed with the perfect parents for us, even when we might not realize it until we are much older. When I set out on this path of motherhood, I envisioned myself as having everything together by the time I reached the age of forty. Now I realize, there is no such thing as having it altogether—it will probably never happen, so I have let go of this expectation.
Both of you have touched my life in the most beautiful way; reaching deep within my soul, leaving your fierce marks, like the ember sparks from a fire.
There have been so many times since you have both reached your teens when I can feel you pulling away, and I know at some level you want me to let go, but I have to explain, I just cannot do that. I don’t know how to not be your mom. Being a mom is not something that will be completed once you reach a certain age, like 18, 20 or even 40. You will always be my babies no matter how old you are, and I will always be your mother. I will never stop learning from other woman; other moms, especially my mom, and other ladies in my tribe of wise women. The girls and women in your life are a wonderful resource for you, no matter that path they are on. If you can learn at a young age to observe people instead of judging them, to learn from them instead of tearing them down, you will grow to be healthy, insightful, young women.
I know sometimes I embarrass you, and annoy you in public. I realize the older I get, the more embarrassing I will become. Please try to remember, not long ago, I forced my own mother to drop me off an entire block away from the middle school, to be out of sight from my friends as I jimmied the door handle from the outside of our ancient car. My gut sinks now as I imagine my mom driving away daily from a daughter who may not have even said good-bye to her, (the same mother who worked 12-hour-days while going to nursing school), as a single mother, and I was embarrassed of our old car. Words and actions can rip you open, leaving ragged scars visible only to the people who truly pay attention. With one kind gesture or uplifting conversation, you have the power to lift someone’s spirits, and show them they are worth believing in. Every person matters, and should be treated as such, always. Including you, including me, including the man talking to himself on the street corner. Never forget that! Sometimes it’s so easy to get swept into a moment, and forget our humanity. All of us make mistakes, and we never really know how fragile someone is, until we break them.
Ali, you have taught me so much in my seventeen years (eighteen if we count pregnancy) of being your mom, and I am so blessed. You taught me not only is family worth standing up for, but I alone am more than worth standing up for. You showed me the importance of self-respect in my 40s, and that it is never too late to speak your personal truth. You are brave and courageous. Usually the most intelligent person in the room, conversations with you are one of my favorite things, and I have no doubt in my mind you will surpass me as an artist one day. You are such an amazing person, if you would just get out of your own way, and believe in yourself as much as I believe in you.
Cami, you remind me so much of myself, and you are such a gift. Looking at you is like gazing into the mirror, only seeing a different reflection. Everyone continuously tells us both how much you resemble me. There is only one other person I know who sobs at the sight of a wounded animal, agonizes over the mere thought of hurting someone’s feelings, and enjoys helping people more than almost anything, and that person is you. After a bad day, you’re always waiting ready, making a goofy face like your late Uncle Brian. A talented writer, and a gifted artist, I love watching you grow. You are way harder on yourself than you should be, and I hope someday you see how wonderful you are.
You girls are the perfect mixture of not only your father’s and my traits, but you also contain qualities from your grandparents, siblings, and stepparents as well. There are parts of all of us that come out in your mannerisms, your decisions, and the thousands of other little things I adore about you both. You are colorful masterpieces of imperfection—the brilliance swirled with the messy, the colorful, and the chaotic.
As you enter your senior and eighth grade years, I finally understand the edge in my mom’s voice when I tell her I’m too busy to come over. I can feel you both gradually pulling away from us as you discover more of the world for yourself, and I will still be here waiting. I will not stop being your mom. I hope throughout your journeys, you always feel comfortable talking to me about anything and everything, and that you always remember my door will always be open to you. No matter what life brings your way, and how bad things seem, you can always count on your mom to be there. Just please, don’t ever ask me to stop being your mom, because that is just impossible.
I love you, forever and always.