In February, I wrote a letter to my father. This is a different sort of letter. A letter to the woman I am so proud to call my mom.
If I ever needed to know what unconditional love looked like, I only have to look at you. You have shown me complete, unconditional love from day one. You are one of the strongest women I know, and I hate that you don’t see yourself this way. Because you are. There’s nobody in the world could have gone through the circumstances you have gone through and emerged out as such a winner.
Growing up, it was tough living with you and Dad. The fights were intense and frequent. I remember watching Dad hold a knife to your throat when I was just a child. I remember thinking, “Mom, please stop!” when you continued to fight with him, but then so proud that you could hold your own. I remember walking on eggshells around Dad and feeling the wrath of his anger. I remember the sweet relief I felt when you sat me down one night when I was in fifth grade and told me we were leaving my father.
Leaving your husband of almost 13 years was no easy feat. You had to become a single mom to a 12-year-old sullen boy and a 11-year-old scared-of-her-own-shadow girl. You had to move back in with your parents. There was nothing easy about what you did, but it was necessary. “I didn’t want your brother and you to see our relationship and think this is how a marriage looks like,” is what you say to this day of why you left my father. It didn’t just show me that, it also showed me what it means to be a strong woman.
We weren’t always good friends. I wrote “I hate my mom” on my dresser in middle school. I was embarrassed to walk around in the mall with you. I thought you were old-fashioned with your Christian values.
But now you are my best friend. You are someone I go to for all my problems. We have our moments of utter silliness where we giggle like we’re in middle school. We have our moments of extreme seriousness where we talk about our problems. And we have our quiet moments where we just sit in complete, comfortable silence.
You have supported me every step of the way: through my awful education internships, losing weight, my decision to switch my major, some terrible jobs, and you were there to pick up the pieces every single time my father broke my heart. I know I can talk to you about any problem and concern I may have and you will listen.
We have been through a lot together. I was with you as you lost 80 pounds. I was with you when you left my dad for the final time. I was with you as you struggled with extreme depression, after leaving my father.
You are an amazing woman. You raised two amazing kids on a limited budget. While Mark and I never got a car for our 16th birthdays, we received more in love and support from you than a car could ever give. You taught us about responsibility, courage, and honesty. You taught us about forgiveness as you sent us off to my father’s house every other weekend, knowing he was going to spend the majority of the time bashing you. You have taught me about love, a selfless love, that keeps on giving and never grows weary.
I am so glad to be your daughter. While I may have bombed in the dad department, I got the pot of gold in the mom department. You are amazing, beautiful, and so much fun to be with. I love you, Mom.