Today we celebrate the 36th anniversary of your 29th birthday and I've come a very long way to tell you the same thing I tell you every time I talk to you on the phone:
I love you.
Not such a big surprise that. It should be pretty obvious that I do, but it always helps to hear it, doesn't it? See, you've been telling me that all my life, but I hadn't noticed a lot of those ways as a kid. Now that I am a mother, I notice it a LOT more. I thought the first time you told me you loved me was when you took me to Colorado to drop me off at University. Getting on an airplane with me and leaving me in Colorado was probably one of the harder things you ever had to do for me. I know it was hard for you because years later a little bird told me that you missed me terribly while I was gone. But instead of telling me that and reinforcing my homesickness, you sent me on my way and encouraged me whenever I called.
But I was wrong. That was just the first time I remembered you telling me that you loved me..
What I didn't notice was all the other ways you'd been telling me (and Dawn, and Cindy, and Ian and Dad) all the rest of the time.
You taught me that food can be love. Not in the “I just ate an entire chocolate cake for breakfast” love replacement sort of way, but in the “It's your birthday! I'll make all of your favorite foods!” sort of way (Lasagna and NY style cheesecake, for those of you taking notes.). Thanks, Mom!
You taught me to love plants by surrounding us with them as we were growing up. I imagine you were surprised when I took your love of plants and ran with it. Now I have a full blown gardening obsession. Thanks, Mom!
You taught me to love reading by filling our house with books. While many of them were goofy romance novels, there were plenty of Readers Digest Condensed Novels, too. I read everything I could get my hands on. Clearly I've passed that love of reading on to my own children, since every night, without fail, we have to drag a book out of Caitlin's hands and turn off her light. Well past her bedtime. Thanks, Mom!
You told me something, the other day that really struck me. You said that I'm the “emotive one”. I think you're right. I watch as events unfold, I observe, I feel and then I talk about it. Or I write about it. It may be something that you've thought about, but never actually said out loud. But I will, because you also taught me to be confident and to believe in myself and to share my thoughts with others. Thanks, Mom!
Unfortunately, that skill? That ability? That curse? Being the emotive one, means that I'm the one that breaks your heart repeatedly. And for that I'm sorry. But you also taught me forgiveness as you've forgiven me, over and over again for all of the stupid things I've done or said over the years. I know I've broken your heart – repeatedly – and yet each time I do, you still love me for who I am. Thanks, Mom.
I've noticed though, that I seem to have taught YOU a thing or two. A couple of years ago, around Mother's Day, you explained that you never seemed to get what you wanted and I asked if you'd ever told Cindy and/or Dad specifically what you wanted. You said “No” and that they should just know by now that all you wanted was to be taken out to dinner. I said that you should just tell them and that it would guarantee that you would get exactly what you wanted.
You seem to have taken that idea to heart since it was YOU that told Cindy that you'd like a big party this year and lo and behold! Here we all are! With you. Celebrating.
It seems you CAN teach a...mature...mom a few new tricks.
And for that, and for so many other things, I just want to say: I love you.
And thank you, Mom.