When I was a little girl, I was everything to my mother.
I was the sun, the moon, and the stars. The fulfillment of a dream and a promise. I was joy, and love, and friendship, all wrapped up in one flawless package.
I was *everything* she needed. You couldn’t have told me any different.
I s’pose it’s natural for small children to believe the sun rises and sets on them, especially with their mamas. But we mothers keep a secret that we wait too long to share with the people we love most.
The day I learned the secret will always stand out in my memory. It was the day my mom, who undoubtedly already suffered from the burnout unique to mothers, finally broke down. I can’t believe it took as long as it did. (I was quite the entitled little monster.)
I didn’t see her cry very often. My parents usually kept the hard things from me — most of the tears, any arguing, any worries — so when those things escaped their bubble, they landed in an inhospitable landscape. I didn’t know what to do with them; I couldn’t fix the grown up tears. So my heart broke, as well.
I remember standing in my parents’ bedroom doorway, studying the wood grain of the frame. I did that a lot as a kid — picked something obscure and unremarkable to focus on when my feelings were too big for me to handle.
I listened as my mother cried. Her broken words reverberated around me, as I tried to separate them from the slight gasps for breath and the absolute river of tears. Now both of us were crying.
And I knew I needed to hear her. I mean, I *really* needed to hear her.
We might have exchanged a thousand words, but these are the ones I’ll remember.
She said, “I love to be your mom. But I’m a person, too.”
Almost thirty years have passed by now. I want to say that I could throw all those years together in a kaleidoscope, and no matter how many designs I created, they’d all serve as evidence that I understood her then — that I made it my purpose to remember. But that wouldn’t be the truth.
Not until I let the tears fall in front of my own small children, did I fully understand.
I know you feel it sometimes, Mama.
You LOVE to be a mother. But you’re a person, too. And it’s okay to admit it…hopefully before the tears and broken hearts.
Promise me you’ll remember this — in your day-to-day, in the hardest moments — when you’re doting on your everything…
your sun, your moon, your stars.