This Mother's Day, finally -- answers to ALL the questions you asked me.
Happy Mother's Day! I know that in years past, you expected flowers, a card, maybe an extravagant brunch where no one argues or vomits or pretends to pay the bill then doesn’t... maybe even luxurious socks embroidered with World’s Best Mom.
But I ran out of time and ideas (because I’m a mom!) and the truth is, this year I thought of something better.
Here are the answers to every question you ever asked / raged over, while raising me.
What was I thinking?
I wasn’t. Or, I was probably thinking about eyeliner. I was selfish, and unappreciative of everything. Including you. To be fair, I was hormonal and terrified of not being cool. I’m still one of those things (not your fault).
No, you did not look like the maid around here.
Remember that night of my senior year in high school when you had to come pick me up at 3 in the morning? Yes, we were drinking Jagermeister, and yes, it was Ricky D’Agostino’s idea.
Yes, most of the time you were, in fact, talking to yourself. Or to “the wall.”
Yes, I did think money grows on trees, or rather, in your pockets. I had no idea the indignities you suffered silently at a soulless job so that I could have riding lessons, sushi, origami math camp, the right sneakers, and several forgettable birthday parties at lavish overpriced establishments (oh, wait, that’s my kids).
Remember that week I wouldn’t talk to you, and sat in my room listening to Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb for seventeen hours straight? I have no idea why I did that and I still struggle with the meaning of that song. I realize that’s probably unsatisfying, but hopefully it gives you some comfort to know it had nothing to do with you. Or maybe that’s worse?
I know now that you are an individual person with your own postponed hopes and distant dreams put aside to raise us the best you could. You were someone before you were a mom. And I know how you felt.
I did know that there were people starving in Africa, but I thought it had nothing to do with me and your American Chop Suey. Now, I know better.
Yup, I did pierce my face to piss you off. Sorry.
You had to ask me four times because (wait for it) I wasn’t listening. Also, because talking on the phone to my friends was incredibly important at the time. If I could have a do-over, I would have spent more time talking to you instead. And listening. But I didn’t know.
Yes, I know your job was to make me a good person, or at least an honest one. But back then I thought your job was to torture me by singing along to the car radio in front of my friends and dancing at my graduation party.
Yes, I knew you loved me. I knew you were punishing me for my own good. I thought I was punishing you for the same reason.
I did know motorcycles were dangerous. I didn’t care because – well, you know why. I was sixteen and a self-centered hormone festival. Again, sorry.
I didn’t know that you lived in constant hope and terror that someday I would not need you. Now, I do.
Yes, I knew that not every kid had fresh popcorn and orange soda waiting for them when they got off the bus. Did you know that today you can be jailed for serving a child orange soda?
I was seventeen. I know you think that’s too young, but we loved each other and times were different from when you were a horny teenager. If it makes you feel any better, these days kids get birth control and HPV inoculation at age twelve.
It was me who broke the window that time, not Beth. Wow, it feels good to get that off my chest. You should probably call Beth’s mother and apologize.
I didn’t know who I thought I was. I still don’t. I just know that I didn’t respect or thank you enough, because I thought I knew more than you. Guess what? I was wrong.
Yes, I did know better. But I thought immediate gratification was more important than an arrest record for shoplifting lip gloss.
I didn’t know that lurking behind every moment of every day was the fear you might lose me. Or that I might want you to. I’m sorry.
Remember that time in Aruba when I made you binge watch that show about the Dutch arsonist that you had no interest in? I lied; it wasn’t because I wanted you to help keep the show on the air. It was because I wanted to sit next to you on the couch for a few hours without Dad or my annoying siblings there.
Yes, I do realize all the things you did every day without being thanked or asked. It only took me 30 years. Why didn’t you tell me? Oh wait, you tried to. I was on the phone with my friends. Talking about eyeliner. Sorry.
Remember that time I fell off the swing and it came back and lacerated my chin and you rushed me inside, got a Band-Aid and stayed with me while we watched cartoons and you called Dad to tell him what happened and that I was brave and then you made my favorite dinner, Hot Dog Surprise, and you tucked me in with my favorite stuffed tiger? I think of that day on my hardest days, which is, let’s be honest, more often than I care to admit.
Remember when you used to say “I can’t wait until you have children of your own, then you’ll understand.” You were right. You were so, so right. Damn you.
No, those were not my cigarettes. They were Ricky D’Agostino’s. He made me.
You said, someday I won’t be here to pick up after you! You were right. I wish I picked up more. I wish I listened more, I wish I hugged you more. I wish I’d said I’m sorry when you could still hear me.
I wish I’d written this letter years ago. I miss you every day, Mom.
I love you. Happy Mother’s Day.