Mae, te amo!
I think we say that a lot. We say it at the end of every phone call, nearly in every email and close to every time we see each other. We say it while we bid adieu. We say it when we talk about the tough stuff. We say it all the time. But we mean it even more.
The past few years have been tough- the past 21 years to be exact. I’m so glad I’ve had you as a partner, companion and support system. I’m not sure there’s another person in the world who understands what we’ve gone through together and continue to go through.
I’m not sure you could ever write a book, tell a story, paint a picture or create a film which could capture the emotions, experiences, disappointments, losses, gains, successes and time we’ve shared.
I think of all the times you carried me, half-asleep, from school through blocks of New York after a nine hour work day, and tucked me into my bed. Of all the times you refused dates and were worried about leaving me with nannies. I think about all the times I stayed in a safe and fun afterschool program, an expensive program at that, so you could work longer hours. Of all the times we didn’t talk about the money we didn’t have or the toys we couldn’t buy or the times we couldn’t spend going to amusement parks and visiting family in Brazil.
But then we did, we had times when we could do those things, and they were all the more special for that. There was the time we finally bought a TV, and the time I finally had my own room, and the time we went camping in a lodge! Two, five, ten years before, you couldn’t have convinced us that any of this was possible or worthwhile. And while we’ve become comfortable with our way of life now, I think we appreciate it more for the times we had to buy rice by the pound, the times we shared a bunkbed in a studio apartment, and the times we put each other first.
More than thank you, I want to say how grateful I am to know you. I don’t think it’s always that I’m proud that you’re my mom. I think I’m just proud to have witnessed alongside you how gracious, strong, proud, confident and talented you are. There is no other human on earth who could’ve molded me into a better person than you did by allowing me to be a bystander to the amazing things you’ve accomplished. I can’t tell you how proud I am to know you.
And sometimes, that means I get scared. Scared of how you’ll react when I’m not perfect. Scared of how you’ll react to my tattoos, my career choices, my relationship decisions and my life choices in general. I get scared of disappointing you. More than that, I get concerned that all those years witnessing you fight and clamor up the rungs, becoming my hero, will have been wasted on someone who isn’t worthy anymore of that hard work.
So thank you for loving me despite the time I wrote a suicide note, despite the time I blamed god for grand mom’s death, despite the times I’ve disagreed with you, and lied and hidden things from you. Thank you for loving me despite all the things I find unforgiveable in myself. Thank you for picking up the phone when I’m having an attack at 2 am. Thank you for listening when I was upset about my first boyfriend. Thank you for listening when I was upset about my last boyfriend. Thank you for encouraging me to seek forgiveness and peace and love in my relationships, even when you don’t particularly like the person I’m relating to. Thank you for always encouraging me to be a bright, talented young woman, and for showing me what that looks like. Some people can say their parents are accepting or kind or caring, but I’m lucky to be able to say that you’re loving even when reason would dictate otherwise.
I could never say thank you enough times. So I’ll say te amo. I love you for the person you are, the person you’re always becoming, and for the people you’ve created: me, Vanessa and Samuel.