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Nothing and Everything Like Ma

A vulnerable moment, an honest conversation, and my Mom's perspective got me to the other side, and back to good.

It's hard to win the battle between head and heart, if one can be considered triumphant over the other, and sometimes that voice inside can be overwhelming! I know there are a lot of people like me, that ten to rehash an event or conversation always seeking other perspectives or potential outcomes.

When I’m in the thick of waging that war, I always seem to recall one memory with my Mother more than any other. Like stepping back in real time, it seems to guide me and keep me on the level. Here's how that conversation went.

In 8th grade I was the smallest kid in my class, come freshman year, I was the tallest. Before visualizing me as a giant, I'm average at 5'8". But, I remember how horribly awkward that time was. I get that it is a weird phase of life with all sorts of physical, emotional, and mental transitions that everyone has to navigate differently. Again, it's just weird. Because I was on the smaller side of life for so long, I was rather timid and preferred to blend in.

My freshman year the universe thought it would be hilarious to shove me out of that safe space. I remember feeling as if my arms were too long or my feet were too big, and none of it worked together. I was flat out, clumsy. You ever feel like something has to be wrong with you, and hopefully, nobody else notices?

Making friends, fitting in, and being a part of any group seemed easy for everyone around me, although it was one of those things I never mentioned to any of my friends. Mother knew something was bothering me, which she mentioned enough to open communication lines, but was holding back as best she could. Eventually, her patience had worn out and she pressed me, but with genuine concern.

I know I didn't say this, but whatever I did say, sounded a lot like, how disappointing it must be to have a daughter like me. I know, my delivery was the worst, but that was as close as I could get to everything I was thinking and feeling. Her shoulders dropped and her face went blank as we just stood there for a moment without saying a word.

Oh no, that's how she really feels! Or so I thought. She took my hand and without looking back she led me to sit on the couch next to her. Well, great, could I screw this up anymore, there's so many disappointments we are working with here, that it warrants sitting down to go over them. She took a deep breath, finally looked at me with tear filled eyes, and had the mama voice you could hear and also feel, almost like a hug.

Honey, is there something that I have done or said that makes you feel that I am disappointed in you?

It had not occurred to me that my insecurities could have meant she was not being a good mom, but that was how she had taken it. That was not on my mind at all and now we both were crying.

Well, no, but, Mama, you are so beautiful and I’ve seen your year book, you are Miss this and that on every other page…

Before I was able to put any other thoughts into words, she closed her eyes and pulled me into her arms. She comforted me as I tried to do the same as we both shed tears but for different reasons. I didn't intend on hurting her feelings because I was having a hard time not measuring up to my imaginary standard. She was trying to take any of those thoughts from me in that embrace, because she is such a good Ma. And here's the deal, she would do the same for anyone that was feeling like I was, her child or not, that's what makes her a phenomenal human.

Mama took her time, centered in front of me, with tender, accepting, and comforting hands cradling my face, making sure she had my full attention.

I want you to listen to me, Ok?

Never compare yourself to me or anyone else.

You understand me, right?

You are not like everyone else and have so many qualities that I wish I possessed.

Life is not about being the most popular, or athletic.

It’s not who is the prettiest, or even smartest.

Your father and I will have only done a half-assed decent job as a parent for our daughter to be known as kind, honest, pure-hearted, and a defender of those that are weaker.

You are so much more. You will be so much more than I ever could have dreamed to be and I can't wait to see what all of that is my darling.

She wiped away the few tears that escaped her serious eyes as I waited. I wanted to remember every word and the moment as clearly as it all was right then. With a slow, calm and cleansing breath her posture went back to the strong, remarkable woman I was used to.

With conviction and authority she stood, with her back to me, raised her had up shoulder level and gestured up, pointedly, not at all an after thought, as she left the room.

Things in a yearbook, the this and that don’t hold a candle to you, my daughter.

No matter what, know that your Daddy and I are proud of you, nothing changes that.

I knew she meant it with everything that made her my Mom, leaving no doubts in my mind where I stood with either of them. We both had gotten some things sorted out, probably more than we both had been prepared for, but it was worth it and made a difference.

From the kitchen she asked if I wanted some cherry cobbler, with or without ice cream. She knew my answer without asking, which made me smile, but I answered her just the same.

Make it like yours Mama.


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