Like most human relationships, the connection I have with my mother is a fluid one. We had our battles during my adolescence, mostly around boys and apparel. Shockingly, we had different viewpoints on what was considered appropriate in both hem length and young men. Disagreements were followed by silent treatments (both guilty), tears (both), and slamming of doors (me). I remember thinking my life was over because I couldn't go to the U2 concert with a bunch of boys from Deerfield High School (Achtung Baby tour--still stings a bit) or that no, she wouldn't buy me those pink Guess jeans that cost more than anything in her closet.
Thankfully, our relationship evolved through the tempers as hot as lava. At some point in my late 20s, we shifted into friendship territory. But even then, I was busy with my own world and social circles to truly appreciate this gift. Like the years of childhood, her love and support was just a given.
Then I had kids.
Becoming a parent changes you in many earth-shaking ways, and one of those realizations is finding empathy for your parents and the hell you put them through. Knowing that they too went through the sleepless nights, the harried days, and all the ups and downs that come with parenthood, all I want to say is sorry. When I think about my teenage years, I now view every clash from her side, and understand why she said no to the boy or the revealing skirt. Sorry, sorry, sorry.
I think of my teenage self when I battle with my 3 year old, who at 20 lbs, already has strong opinions on what she wants to wear regardless of season, taste, or color palette. I have no doubt that she will have equally strong beliefs on the one who holds her heart someday. Cringe.
While I can't do anything about my relationship with my future daughter, I can focus on here and now. I can hug my precocious daughter and have faith that her strong will becomes adult confidence. I can call my mom and be grateful that she is healthy and still talking to me.
My 40th is quickly approaching and I still feel like a lost child some days. But I am grateful for the foundation my mom gave me when I didn’t want it, and the friendship she gave me when I didn’t appreciate it.
I love you, Mom. If I don’t say this to you every day, I should just to make up for lost time. Happy Mother’s Day to you—and to all the great moms out there.
Nora Kerr is the owner of Memoir for Me, creator of memory books crafted from personal interviews.