Love Note to My Mom (Who is Not My Friend)

Love note to my mom

Dear Mom,

My whole life you always said you were not my friend. You said it wasn’t your “job” for me to like you. You said you had your own friends and I had mine.

When I was younger, that seemed so mean, and until I had kids, I really didn’t understand what you meant. But I do now. Mom, you are not my friend. You never have been, and you never will be. You are my mom, and that’s exactly what I need you to be. You’re right: I have my own friends, lots of them.

But I only have one you.

I learned a lot by watching you in the last 42 years. I was in elementary school, watching you study for college classes and manage the household while dad traveled. Through that, I was inspired to work hard, and I began to understand that balancing work, school and family was indeed possible.

When I was in high school and college, I watched you sacrifice your time working late shifts and every possible bit of overtime at the hospital so that my sister and I could go to camp or get our first cars or have the prom dresses of our dreams.

You were there to hold me when I needed it and comfort me when I was sad. You showed me how to have fun, how to REALLY celebrate the holidays, and to love unconditionally, no matter what.

You taught me to cook, to balance a check book, to laugh at myself. (But you never did teach me to iron. I think you secretly liked that chore too much to share it. And it shows – to this day, I’m really bad at ironing… Thanks, mom.)

Along the way, I think I taught you a few things, too, like it’s safe and convenient to shop and bank online; a good masseuse has seen better and worse bodies so just put on the dang towel and enjoy the darn massage already; and the peacefulness that comes from practicing yoga. I also taught you that it was okay that I lost my hair during chemo – I’m sorry you cried when I lost my curls, but it gave us a chance to see what a good job you did “shaping” my Gumby head (your words, mom) when I was an infant.

It’s been a wild ride in the last few years. You were widowed after almost 40 years of marriage. Eighteen months later, I was widowed, too. You’ve dealt with some major health issues. So have I. We’ve laughed a lot. We’ve cried a bit. We’ve always gotten through it. We’ve stuck together. We’ve become quite a team, you and I.

But we’re still not friends.

me and mom

My mom and me at my wedding in 2001. Honestly, one of the few photos of us together since I’m usually behind the camera.

Together we’ve become resourceful, capable women. We’ve driven more than a 2,000 miles roundtrip in a minivan with two kids who do not stop talking. We’ve learned to use chainsaws, fix toilets, deal with phone scams, buy houses and cars, and vermin-proof our gardens (well, kind of, except for those pesky deer).

And now the biggest gift and challenge: you’re helping me raise my kids. Neither of us saw that coming, and I know you didn’t plan on spending your retirement years running kids to/from school or helping with handwriting and algebra and research papers. But I’m so incredibly thankful you’re part of our daily lives. I love watching you teach Lauren to sew and teach Ethan to fish. (Both are skills I’d never attempt on my own, let alone teach kids.) I love how both kids get excited when they get to spend the night with you. Of course, it might be because you let them bend the rules: staying up late, finger painting and Play Dough in the living room, watching a little more TV or iPad time than I allow, getting dirty…

They love you so much. And so do I.

I just wanted to tell you that you were right. We’re not friends. You’re my mom. We are a team. I love you. I appreciate you. And I thank you for everything.

Happy Mother’s Day, mom. Let’s never be friends.

P.S. Please teach my kids to iron. Then maybe they can teach me.


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