Friday, March 22, 2013

you're a gentle one, said she


My mother is a much greater woman than I.

From the very moment I was born, she supplied me with friends. My first friend was my older sister, first in line to welcome me into the world. From that moment, my mother prepared me to realize that the world was full of many people to love. 
None of them are you, and all of them are worth loving. 
Because they are not you, they will be difficult to understand, which means you have to learn patience. Because they are not you, they often will not understand you, which means you have to learn to speak clearly, think quickly, and stand your ground firmly.
Because they are not you, many of them may hurt your heart, but you love them anyway. 
My mother taught me what it means to be a friend.

My mother brought me into a world full of mirrors and magazines that can warp and twist the way I saw my body. Mirrors that can be clouded by my own frustration, anger, or hurt, and hide beauty in the foggy muck.
But when my mother looked into my eyes, she taught me to look past those other mirrors. She taught me that the other mirrors didn’t matter. 
I would learn to dismiss them—to walk by a mirror without a glance, to forget to compare myself to a magazine cover in the bustle of living a life full of joy.
In my mother’s eyes, I saw myself reflected there. And I saw that reflection for what it was: the image of a woman of worth, a beloved child, a someone who had infinite flaws and infinite virtues. 
A someone who had all the mistakes in the world to make; and would probably make them all multiple times, much to her chagrin. 
But if I looked into the mirror of my mother’s eyes, I noticed that, in there, no matter how frustrated or confused or sad or angry or hurt those eyes were, I never became less cherished or less beautiful in there. 
My mother taught me what it means to be beautiful.

My mother watched as I slowly developed my own wings.
First, I learned to go outside on my own.
I would head to the backyard and swing for hours until my mother came looking for me. 
Then, one day, I was walking to the neighborhood Starbucks by myself.
One thing led to another, and before we knew it, I was driving myself to rehearsal at the theatre downtown.
Then one day I flew down to Texas on an airplane by myself for the first time. 
Before you could say: “empty nest” I was studying abroad in London, traveling solo to Rome, and spending nights in hostels in Scotland. 
My mother sent gentle emails full of concern, and worry, yet she let me go anyways, with a sigh and a prayer and a wry smile.
My mother taught me what it means to be independent.

If I am half the mother to my daughter that my mother was and is to me, then my daughter will be a lucky girl indeed.
My mother is a much greater woman than I.