I want to talk about my mother. Mother’s Day may be around the corner, but today is her birthday. And if there is anyone in my life who deserves a full day’s worth of isolated celebration, it’s my mother.
My mother had three children. She had always said that if she could have, she would have stayed home with us and shared every moment. But it was very hard to make that happen in our family, so instead, she worked her ass off at work, and made sure not to miss a single thing of ours. That’s three kids, each with an activity (at least one) that required our full commitment, and lots of money. She made all of that happen for us.
I was not an easy child. Neither was my brother. We both dealt with heavy emotional problems, depression, anger, the works. We were difficult children. Fortunately, my sister was pretty breezy (except for her continued demand for all things leopard print, Hello Kitty, and her over exaggeration of injuries), but I know parenting the three of us was a big piece of work for a while.
Everyday, she let us know that she’d take all the tough moments for us in a heartbeat. She never let us see the toll we likely took on her. Or the toll she took from the world.
But the world gave my mom a lot to handle. And she likely never told anyone but her closest friends. She really didn’t tell us until we were much older, and when she spoke of it, it was with a light-hearted attitude, as if the only thing that got her through everything was to pretend like it wasn’t a big deal.
By most people’s standards, everything she has faced with would be a huge deal.
My mother never made me feel like I couldn’t do the thousands of things I wanted to try. I actually probably have that trait because of her constant interest in continued learning. My mother never made me feel like I couldn’t talk to her or be completely honest with her. Even though I was always afraid to. In reality, I never opened up fully to her until I was an adult.
I couldn’t, because my mother was everything a person could ask for in a mother. I never wanted to let her down. She never deserved the tough cards she was dealt. But she somehow got them. And I never wanted to be another card. But I know I was. I was the joker. The card you didn’t know what to do it, because it didn’t fit in any game you played, but it was awkward and funny. It was a good/bad card to have.
As I started to "get my shit semi-together," I began to face some of my hardest personal battles to date. She was more and more available to me with each day, never making me feel an ounce of guilt if I couldn't be there for her in the ways I wanted to. In 2015, I had begun my journey into my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. I was physically very unwell. It was a lot of pain, and at the time, I felt very much alone and like giving into the depression that was inevitably around the corner. I had a feeling the diagnosis would be multiple sclerosis, and as the main appointment drew closer, I was breaking down. I went to my appointment. I received the diagnosis. I cried in my car. I cried at home. I called my mother.
I will never forget her response...
"Ok Bridie. This isn't it for you. I have a giant folder with research about multiple sclerosis, treatments, diet, centers. We're ready."
In that moment, I realized that not only would she be there for me in my hardest times, but she had made sure she could be my guide through everything.
I don't know what the definition of a saint is. But she is the closest thing I have ever known to being one. She will hate that I am saying that. But I feel it deeply to be the truth.
Over the course of her life, she has given me so many gifts. She has taught me empathy. Or maybe I inherited hers. A trait that can cause both a total understanding and a total sense of pain. It’s very challenging trait to carry at times. As I have faced everything in my life, I’ve gotten through it because she has taught me patience. That may be the greatest gift she has given me. Patience, even when I don’t want to be. Even when I want to be moving as fast as I can towards the next great thing in my life, she has taught me to feel through the hard journey.
Mom, the only gift I can give you that I feel is big enough to show you how much you mean to me is a bunch paragraphs to tell you how much I love you. But those will never be enough to adequately show you or help you feel the immense love I carry for you, because of you.
Happiest of birthdays, until the next birthday, which I pray will then be the happiest, and hopefully the following birthdays will be progressively happier. You deserve nothing but the most wonderful things. I love you.