To the woman I call mama,
Growing up I had the cool mom. The mom who was young and could be my older sister and if anyone dare say that to my face I’d be pissed at them for a while. Even though my friends always liked you, there were times that I didn’t. Times that I look back on now and know I was just being a brat. Typical kid rebelling against any authority figure who got to close, who wanted to try and connect with me. You see growing up I had a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. So much that I had a hard time doing what you told me because I felt you had no right. I took care of myself and in my eye’s, I didn’t need you. The oldest of four and a step-father who thought old fashion. You know the ones who bring home the bacon so it’s the woman’s job to raise the kids but that’s not the way it was. You had to work as well to make ends meet and as a result I got left with the kids more often than not. As an adult now I’m constantly told that I raised those kids and myself. I had you there but not really and being the level head logical thinker that I am, I took that responsibility because someone had to. If the adults in my life, as a child, knew I was struggling to balance school, sports and kids why did none of them speak up? Today, as an adult I refuse to really ask why they never said a word when I was fifteen taking care of toddlers, cooking dinner and making sure the other sibling had her homework done and still had my own chores and homework to do. Why no one ever questioned why the kids acted more like I was their mother than their own mother. Why did no one say anything?
I look back now and I don’t regret how I was raised. Because it made the person you are so proud of today. I can take care of myself and my “children” are grown to the point where its ok to step back and be big sister for the first time in eighteen years. You have no idea how hard that was for me. How many nights I worried about how different things would be and if the kids could handle me not being there for them. I questioned if had raised them right, had I taught them enough to be ok without me there to fix all their problems that came up last minute. I tried to talk myself out of leaving because my youngest wasn’t ready. I know you did the best you could and I know I was loved unconditionally. But I also wish you would acknowledge the fact that I was a big part in raising those well-mannered, well respected, self-sufficient children that people praise you on. I wish that when I finally opened up about that you hadn’t thrown a fit. You said I called you a “bad mother” when in fact you never have been. Nor have I ever called you that and I never will. Bad mothers don’t work grave yard shifts in crap ass warehouses to make sure we had food in our fridge and clothes on our backs. Bad mothers don’t call every few hours to make sure we are ok, to make sure we have eaten dinner and did our homework. It was impossible for you to be a bad mother even with all the responsibility of the kids on my shoulders.
It has taken many years to get where we are now. To be more than passing strangers who live in the same house. To stop talking to each other in a disrespectful tone. Yes, it has taken a long time to get where we are now. Now I value your opinion more than anyone else because you always tell me how smart I am and you know I’ll make the right choice. Now you’re my best friend who I tell everything and I know you don’t sugar coat your answers when I need them. Now I have come to see you as more than the person who is my mother. You are a strong woman who never spoke about how hard it must have been to be on opposite schedule from your children for years. A woman who never complained about what you would sacrifice to see our school performances. We all know how precious sleep is when you’ve worked a 12-hour shift. But you always showed up on time and clapped the hardest when we were done. You are the woman who fought hard to make her marriage work for us so we wouldn’t come from a broken home. The woman who, no matter what troubles we had, made sure we knew how loved we all are. The woman I admire for sheer determination to be more than just a mom.
So, yes, I had a lot of responsibility on my shoulders and yes at time I hated it. But the outcome… the outcome was so worth it. Not only do I have the best relationship I could ever have with you mama, I also have a new-found respect for your strength and silent suffering. I know understand why women, no mothers are so strong. I can accept that I’m like a second mother to my siblings but I now know how to step back and just be a big sister. It has brought my sister and I closer to each other because I can talk to her as her sister and not the parent. You don’t get angry with me anymore when I tell you to discipline the kids and not let them slide on the little things. Because if I’ve learned anything it’s not let the little things slide because then they like to test what else they can push. You are the best mother I could have ever asked for because no one else would have loved me the way to have. No one would have fought for me the way you fought hard when I needed you too. You are my rock and my constant. I know our relationship will continue to change and grow but it will only grow stronger and change for the better.
To the woman I call mama,
I love you.