I remember being younger, putting my hands around her cheeks, and being jealous of how soft her face was. I told her this too. Mine were dense and hers caved in like a soft pillow when I pushed my hands against her skin. When I told her I liked her skin, she thought I was crazy and even returned the compliment. She smiled a lot more than me and her face stretched out with years and years of having pulled every kind of expression.
She’s really pretty. Like really. I admired her almond-shaped eyes, how her face was slim, how she had cheekbones and naturally full lips . Her side profile is statuesque and she smells nice. And while we’re on the topic of things I admired, she’s been to so many places and done a lot of things. Even if she had never been on a plane once, she grew up in a time of constant adventure. I hear a lot of her stories at least twice but I have to say I like hearing them.I even like hearing stories about her from other people, people who knew her before I did. How she was popular. How she dressed and presented herself. It’s always weird to think about who she was before she was my mom.
Coming to understand a parent as you mature is such a gift. It makes you see what it really took for them to get you were you are today. I like thinking about time being a healer of all things and while that is true, we didn’t end up in a nice house in a nice neighborhood because ten years went by. It happened because my parents had the courage and endurance to move themselves and their three kids to another country and working hard every day to make sure we had the best lives they could possibly give us. Even now, it’s like that. I don’t even think it’s a parent thing; my mom and dad are just genuinely good, hardworking people. Sure, they have faults and they make mistakes but they’re learners. They embrace change and differences. I only recently came to appreciate how great it is that they don’t hold tradition so dear but instill their own values as the earth moves and changes. Again, they’re genuinely good people and they wouldn’t hate me for not being practical or even proper.
My mom is something else. She’s strong. I don’t think you’ll know what “strong” even means until you’ve met my mom, sat down with her, looked her in the eyes, and let her speak to you. She’s still young but she has a whole lot of wisdom in her back pocket in the most unconventional way. Just in the way she carries herself, you know she’s been through the ends of the earth and back. I could see her sigh in fatigue at 5pm, have time and energy to talk me through a bad moment at 1am, and still be okay at 7am to make sure I had at least something to drink before she drove me to school. And then some. I know it’s hard. I see it more than ever now that we’ve all aged a couple years by our own repertoires of hardships. If anything makes me understand my mom’s strength, it’s stepping back and seeing her smiling even after everything.
She does it all. And for what? Well, she really loves us.
I’m not nearly as strong as my mom. In fact, I’m pretty fragile right now. I tell her a lot that I trust her and she makes me feel safe. She makes me calm, she somehow makes sure my head doesn’t fall off when I’m convinced I’m losing my mind. Sometimes when I’m having a bad moment, I need to press my head against her chest and listen to her heartbeat. It’s the most soothing, most reassuring sound I could ever listen to. Ever since I was little. Just being close to her. I call her name sometimes. Not even to ask for anything but I just like knowing she’s close to me. Everything is OK then. I don’t know what it is about it. Maybe I think being close to her would mean her strength eventually radiating into me. Maybe her body is nice to cuddle, like I’m an egg she’s sitting on to keep safe and warm so I thrive. Or maybe it’s the love, selflessness, hardship, wisdom, flaws… just encapsulated by one being: My mother.
I’m really blessed.
I don’t say it enough but thank you.
And I love you.
(also happy birthday!)