To the young ‘uns who don’t know what their mama is thinking: a letter from a daughter who’s grown up a bit.
Something I’ve realized as I’ve grown up more is that mothers never quite stop mothering.
I’ve come to notice this more recently as I’ve been living at home, and thus growing in patience. My parents have been really great about checking on me and “how the job search* is going” (meaning: they haven’t asked too much). I have been a college graduate for over a year, looking for a job (and let me tell you, this process is the WORST, it’s really wearing down that patience I’ve been growing in). My dad is great (we can talk about dads some other time), but for my mama, who always wants every detail of what we are doing, she has not been on the case too much about my search … probably because then we would all go crazy.
However, in the midst of this, it came time to get my wisdom teeth out.
Despite having a job and three younger siblings of mine to take care of, she was the one who drove me to the appointment, sat with me while the drugs wore off (even though I kept poking her in the face), and took care of me in the following days. While my face throbbed, she made me drink water, checked my bleeding, and eventually got me to eat baby food. It reminded me of when I was in third grade and got the chicken pox. There she was again: the one who got me to sit still and rubbed that special medicated lotion on when all I wanted to do was scratch my skin off.
The thing that got me really started thinking about this was when I had to go to the hospital a few weeks ago with the worst pain. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. The day before, my mom saw something was wrong with me, but we both just assumed I slept a weird way and the allergy season somehow dehydrated me. When I couldn’t get off the floor the next morning, she pulled (more like dragged) me along to the Urgent Care and rode with me as I was put in an ambulance for the first time in my life to go and later find out that I had a kidney stone (also the WORST). When I had tried to ignore what was good for me, she was there, assuring me I wasn’t being dramatic.
I think that’s because there are some things mothers just know. We like to think they take care of us until we grow up, but it goes long beyond that.
Mothers keep looking out for us, asking where we are, when we’re going to be home, if we are okay, and ever-suggesting we bring a coat. When children first come along, whether they are born, adopted, or fostered, women become mothers; and in raising us, mothers are always thinking of us.
They would never let us walk into things that aren’t good for us.
Sure, there were things your mother let you do that later filled you with regret for not having listened to her (like eating cookies for dinner or not bringing a coat), but she allowed them to happen because you would learn; and in learning, she was looking out for you.
As a teenager, you fight with your mom. Why is she always asking if your homework is done? Why does it matter whom you’re texting? Why can’t you sleep innnn? Why can’t you just have time to yourself in peace? Ugh, leave us alone for like, 5 minutes!
Your mom knows how trying those teen years are, and doesn’t want you to get stuck or hurt by all the new perspectives of the world hitting you in the face, teaching you different than she taught you, because now you might believe them over her.
She is worried you might start to dislike yourself, or think everyone else dislikes you and you are alone, because too many brand names and celebrities are focused on selling things to you and not shaping you into a quality person — the quality person your mother knows you are and will stand by when you do feel alone. She has always known how special you are, and in trying to prove this to you, the friction results in sighs and eye rolls and irritation between you two.
Then you start to grow up.
You don’t fight every suggestion your mom makes, ask her what she thinks, and maybe even absentmindedly say to her in one rare moment, “Oh, you’re right …” (and she will notice and rub in your face that she was right, she was right, you just said she was right! Record the moment! Compile a time capsule! Ha, your mother is always right.)
Maybe you’re living at home in your late 20s, maybe you’re getting married, maybe you just had your own baby, but there comes a time when you realize everything your mother did was somehow connected to her love for you.
I mean this as more than just a “mom appreciation” bit, but for us to really think about our mamas: all the times they have been there for us, cared for us, said no, given us that tough love, made times difficult, made us laugh, kissed us goodnight, and how it is all woven into making their incredible love for us.
And through that love, you’ll come to realize mothers never quite stop mothering.
*This article was written during the job search that led to my current position at Holy Cross Family Ministries!
Copyright 2019 Kelly Sullivan