To my beautiful mother on Mother’s Day –

You always told me when I was older and had children of my own, you would understand the reasons you did things the way you did.

I get it now.

Every time I look into your grandchildren’s eyes, I feel the enormous amount of pressure on me to do things not only the right way, but to do them well.  I see how they look at me to be their #1 source of their needs and their wants.  They need me every moment of every day to be behind them, encouraging them, leading them, and sometimes making choices for them.

I know that when you look at Brooke Allen, you see me all over again – the way she talks, the way she plays, and the way she sasses.  In your frustration with me growing up, you warned me over and over again that I would have a child just like me one day.  I am absolutely reaping every seed that I sowed in my childhood, and will eventually reap my teenage years too.

But the best part about that is, you are also reaping what you sowed in me.  I have heard my Grandmother tell me many stories about your childhood and how you were what we call now “strong-willed” – locking Grandmother out of the house when she went to break off a switch for your hind legs, running around the house like a banshee because you didn’t want to wear your Easter dress and burning the soles of your feet on the floor furnace, and so many more instances of your childhood as the baby of the family.

I gave you a run for your money as a child and teenager.  I am sure you spent many nights wanting to kick me out of the house, and I’m fairly positive you almost did on one particular night.  About all those things…I’m sorry I caused you much grief and much heartache.  I’m sorry for so much fighting and resisting and yelling.  I’m sorry for thinking you had no idea what you were talking about.  I was only being…well…you.

But the beauty in that is that I can’t wait to be more like you.  I hear it in my voice when I talk to Brooke Allen.  My words will instantly bring back a memory of you and how you led me through a circumstance, or taught me a lesson, or made my day even brighter because of your love.  You were a mother of strength and compassion, discipline and gentle authority.  I could only hope to be so like you for my children.

So, I get it now.

I get why you remember most of my childhood as me being stuck to your leg and only wanting you to play with me.  Because last night, Brooke Allen was standing between me and the tv, begging me to play Hi Ho Cherry O.  We play it every day, and she always wins, and she wants to play it more.

I get why you insisted that our Sundays and Wednesdays be spent in church activities and not at the ball field or gymnastics class.  Because now I realize how important it is that my children are surrounded by a family of faith that supports our Christian parenting decisions.

I get why you pulled me from gymnastics when they wanted me to move to the next level.  Because I don’t want to spend every night or every dollar at a gym either.  And let’s be honest – I’m 5’8″ – I was not going to make it to the Olympics in my lifetime.

I get why you pulled me from that school.  Because I want my children to be the absolute best they can be.  If a school or a group of friends is bringing them down, I won’t hesitate to do the same.

I get why you spent so many conversations trying to tell me I wasn’t really in love and he wasn’t worth my time.  Because I want my children to understand real love that isn’t a high school romance.  And I want their hearts to remain pure and open and unbroken for that person when that time comes.

I get why we screamed and yelled so much at each other.  Because I will fight to the death for my children, their emotional protection, and their maturity.

I get why you let me make my own choices and let me suffer the consequences.  Because I want my children to grow and learn for themselves, and not be forced to fit my mold for them.

I get why it’s sometimes hard for us to draw the line between friendship and mother/child.  Because there will be a day that I will watch my daughter become a mother, and I will want to teach her everything I know, even if she doesn’t ask for it.

I get why you fought so hard for us, and why you did what you did.  You never forgot that we were gifts to you, and we were a responsibility for you.  You have always treated us with utmost respect as individuals with the nurturing kindness of a mother.  You knew when to step back and let us be ourselves, and when to swoop in to be “mama-bear.”

I love those “mama-bear” moments because it reminds me just how much you are on my side.

So when I hear your words come out of my mouth to my own children, I don’t consider it to be a bad thing.  I believe it is me repeating back what I already know – I am a child of a mother who did well.  So well that I can’t help but emulate her actions, her reprimands, and her gentle leadership.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.  You are the best mother to me and Wes, the best mother-in-law to our spouses, and the best GiGi in the whole entire world.  You are a dependable employee that your co-workers have gone to the ends of the earth for.  You are a devoted friend who truly loves at all times.  You are a dedicated church member, playing your piano every Sunday and Wednesday without fail or complaint.  You are a brilliant teacher who has touched thousands of lives through your stern instruction and open doors.  You are a Christian woman after God’s heart, striving and working until you can see the reward.

I can only hope that when my children are parents, they can look in the reflection in the mirror and see me, too, just like I see you.

I love you.  I get it.