today, I looked at my son and felt unconditional love and how awesome it is to be his mom. The running joke is always that no one wants to “turn into her mother,” and I remember as a child and even more so as teen thinking, “I will never be like her.” But sure enough with only one toddler in tow, I am already turning into you. And I have to admit, I am pretty thankful for it. Even the things that drove me crazy as a child, like your emphasis on vegetables, that there was hardly ever Coca Cola and junk food at our house, and limiting screen time, are so important to me now as a mom. The daughter you spent all those years convincing to tidy-up is now sure to walk from room to room each night gathering dirty laundry, Lego, toys, and empty glasses and “tucking-in” the house as you always did.
There is something else I learned from you, too. I always used to tell you that I loved you more, and you would reply that it was a sweet sentiment, but I was wrong, and that I wouldn’t understand until I had one child of my own. Well, now that I do have Joel I get it. I am very certain that I do and always will love my son more than he is capable of loving me. I knew it the instant I saw him.
Mom, the days are long and we talk a lot but I don’t always get the chance to put into words how much I really understand it now and how much I love you.
You were the one who listened, organized, planned; the one who did it all. But once I had a child growing inside of me, I suddenly really understood. You nurtured me. You had grown me from scratch. Every time I thought or worried or dreamed about the little life inside of me, I was made aware of how much countless times you had done the same. And I have been around a while. That’s an awful lot of love. And you just knew it all; at least it seemed that way to me. I asked myself how I would know what to do and what to say to my son as he grew? In difficult times, I would close my eyes and think about what you would do. It always helps because you are reasonable and calm.
Thank you for waking up multiple times in the night, many nights, or sleeping next to my bed when I wouldn’t fall asleep. And not being completely mean-spirited in the morning. And for preparing dinner and teaching me to help others. Thank you for raising me in a clean, orderly home where I always felt secure (home base), but also for showing me that a functional family is a team effort.
I now understand, too, how much restraint it must have taken for you to be nice to some of the weirdos I brought home over the years. You wanted me to know that you respected me enough to let me choose my own friends and later, romantic partners. Today, I joke about how I will eliminate anyone who hurts my son; male or female.
Looking back, I am almost grateful for the social insanity I went through as a teen, because it taught me so much empathy in the real world. Remember when we both learned and studied geography? Everything about avalanches and whatnot. I did my best but I didn’t get all the terms but I have a feeling that with you as a mom, I would have learned it anyway. I am sure that teaching me to tie my shoes, brush my teeth, and wipe my butt was no easy task. I am sure that you had more exciting things to do than reading Frederick to me for the millionth time.
I now get why you did it. I would also like to thank you for doing something that most people only say. Something I know for sure I will be able to do for my own son, which is to encounter him to go for his dreams. Lots of kids are told that they can grow up and be and do whatever they want, but you actually believed it. You believed in me and my decision when I said I will quit my job at the German Federal Police and join the United Nations in New York. And all other crazy decision I made so far.
You have always fostered my dreams and helped me put together the tools I would need to achieve them. But you have not pressured me, and I am so glad I learned that from you. You were excited about my adventure even though I know you wiped aways teas when I left. But hardly ever in front of me but inside you were wilted, uneasy, and sad. Even if we lived far apart when airplanes were required for visits, you put me first, put us first. Because that’s what moms do.
Mom, life is not an easy road and there is so much more involved than I ever could have anticipated. Life as a mom is a constant, daily battle. Questions, challenges, decisions. In hindsight, you made it all look so easy and many times I am trying to pull it off as you did. I know you struggled at points because you told me years later. But you never let me see it.
Thank you for that, too. For not letting me see that it was hard, but rather that your focus was on enjoying me. For putting down the laundry and reading a book to me when I asked you to, even though you had to stay up later to finish the chores that way. For making me a priority. For showing me that being a mom is a big thing, but it is not the only thing. For helping me remember that now when I call you in tears because motherhood is overwhelming. Thank you for teaching me by showing me how to raise a son in this cruel world. It would not surprise me if you said that was the hardest thing you ever had to challenge and honor of doing. But you won’t tell me even if I ask, because, for me, you are always Mom, and that is the most natural thing there is. And like I said, now, I get it.
Ich hab dich sehr lieb, Mama