I was always a free spirit. Seeking adventure, craving excitement. I wanted to learn more and experience new things.
You were not the same. You sought consistency and comfort. Your main role in our family was to provide a safe and sacred home, where we all knew we were loved and protected.
I can only imagine the challenge that I was as a child. Not just because of my strong personality and inquisitive nature, but because of our clash of values.
You wanted to cook my favorite foods, but I loved trying new ones. You wanted to be needed by me, but I fought so hard to be independent. You wanted me to hold onto my roots, but I insisted on planting elsewhere.
I thought it was my right, to go and do and see.
When I called you from my college dorm room and asked if I could travel to Haiti, I could hear the reservation in your voice. It was unfamiliar territory for you. A huge leap of faith. And I rolled my eyes when you hesitated to say yes.
I still remember the day I returned from that trip, showing you the pictures of all the children I had held hands with and sung songs with and played games with. The kids with no parents and that had to drink muddy water. My heart was so full. But even through the pain of consenting, I think your heart was full, too.
You looked at me with such knowing eyes, and told me that this was what I was made to do.
Thank you, Mom, for letting me go.
Thank you for loving me enough to let me try new things. Perhaps I’ve never lacked confidence, but you’ve also never restrained me. I have believed I could do anything in the world, and I know it’s because you allowed me to try.
When I wanted to start my own key chain business in the 4th grade, you took me to Wal-Mart to buy all the string I could afford.
When I tweezed my own eyebrows for the first time, you kept your mouth shut about how ridiculous I looked.
When I ran for class president, fully knowing I was going to lose, you still bought boxes of donuts so I could bribe more people for votes.
When I wanted to travel to Africa alone one summer, you never told me how ignorant that decision was.
When I wanted to deliver my first child naturally, you smiled and said, Good luck.
Never once have I felt that there was a mountain I couldn’t climb. A challenge I couldn’t defeat. An obstacle I couldn’t overcome.
You’ve been my biggest cheerleader all along.
But now that I’m a mother myself, I understand just a tiny amount of how much this all must hurt.
I want my baby girl to be like me. To like what I like and do what I do.
What sacrificial love you’ve had for me, your daughter who chases after dreams that are only your biggest nightmares.
How do you know how to love me? How do you always know what I need? Our lives are so very different, between small towns and big cities, familiar foods and ethnic cuisines, Southern dialect and Asian characters.
THANK YOU FOR TRYING SO HARD.
My mind is overflowing with thoughts of you today, as you package up a box to send across the world.
It would be so much easier to be my mother down the street, babysitting your granddaughter and calling me after work. Instead we resort to scheduled Skype meetings and Instagram posts.
It would have always been easier to keep me close. To pick me up every time I cried and limit my experiences abroad. To fight my battles and take credit for my successes.
But you’ve allowed me to be independent. You’ve watched me cry when friendships were strained, and pushed me to mend things myself. You’ve watched me fail at personal goals, and encouraged me to try again. You’ve championed me on with every achievement, and expected me to work toward even greater victories.
I am only who I am today because you forced yourself to let me go.
I thought it was my right. To go and do and see.
But now I know it was your sacrifice of control that allowed me to be the person I was to be.
“I prayed for this child, and God gave me what I asked for.
And now I have dedicated him to God. He’s dedicated to God for life.”
1 Samuel 1:27-28 (MSG)