I’ve been thinking, for a few days now, that I want to do something really special for my mom this year, to show her how much I love and care about her. But we’re quite broke at the moment, since my sudden but exciting change in career trajectory means we no longer will be receiving a spring stipend payment in the next few weeks. We know we’ll be ok, though, because I have my babysitting job (15-20 hours a week) and the company’s next round of pitching will be in about 2 weeks, and we’re sure we’ll get some significant funding then. And for the summer, my advisor will be paying me to be a “part-time staff associate” so I can help finish up some of the projects we were working on together. But this next month or so will be challenging for us, so I couldn’t pursue some of the more classic ideas, like sending her something really special.
So I’ve been thinking about what I could do, and I think that, while I don’t have much monetarily to share, and we’re not close enough for me to stop by and give her a hug or take her to lunch, I do have my thoughts and my words. So I will share those.
In my childhood and teenage years, my mom and I spent lots and lots of time together. She would drive me to ballet, or soccer, or tap-dancing. I remember standing in the driveway, dressed up in a leotard or a skating outfit, and posing for pictures while she photographed me. I remember being in one of my first performances, dancing in a group number on an auditorium stage to some Irish music while my mother sat in the audience and watched. I remember going to the ice skating rink with my mom and my brother’s boy (cub?) scouts group, and falling in love with the ice. I remember those early days, waking up while it was still dark out to go and practice at the local rink. I remember the first time we went to the new skating complex and training center that was being built in Marlboro, MA, to get a lesson with the new skating director there, when I was still just a young skater and we were both still learning about the skating world.
I remember how my mom was always there, with me, by my side and watching as I learned new jumps and spins, tried new things and fell, time and time again. Yet she always brought me back the next day or encouraged me to skate the next session, so that I could get up and keep trying, keep pushing to be better, to land new jumps or to try new moves. And she kept supporting me as I advanced through my skating career, through the many years of practice and competitions, new skates and dresses, the endless driving and travel, and the really high monetary cost of pursuing the sport of figure skating (Seriously. It’s expensive!). Most of all, I’m glad she supported me through all of the bruising falls and that she was there to celebrate with me for the triumphs.
And she was still there for me when I decided, during the summer before my senior year of high school and after months of training to compete in the Senior Ladies division at regionals that fall, after all of that, that it was time for me to leave competitive skating behind, to move on to other things. I know it was hard for her too, as it was for me, but she supported me as I pursued academics more keenly, as I began joining things like the math league and putting more time into school clubs.
That fall she supported me and helped me to keep up the confidence I needed as I applied to 10 different undergraduate programs. And she was there with me to celebrate and to be proud when I was accepted into 9 of those programs, including two full tuition scholarships to schools in MA (where we lived) and including my first choice school, an elite university in NYC (which offered me need-based financial aid but not scholarships). And that fall, she encouraged me as I went off to my first-choice school, leaving MA for life in NYC. I know it must have been really hard for her, living at home alone with my father for the first time in years, both of her children off at college in the city (my brother was at school in Boston). But when I called to talk she always listened and cheered me on. Now, when we talk, we listen to each other’s problems and offer advice, love, and help to each other. I always feel better after talking to my mom, and I hope that she does too.
Mom, I am so thankful for the solid foundations you provided and for the endless support and encouragement as I pursue my dreams, no matter where they take me. Thank you for giving me the space to make my own mistakes while always being there to listen when I fell down and had to get back up again. I consider you one of my best friends, and I feel lucky to be your daughter. Most of all, I love you with all of my heart.
Happy Mother’s Day!