She is gorgeous, y’all, inside and out. I wish we’d had more time to talk this weekend during the launch team’s takeover of Austin.
Once upon a time, I thought I knew everything.
And I definitely thought I knew more than you did.
You already know this, but I was so, so wrong.
I’ve only been doing this parenting thing for a couple of years now, but every day I’m learning how much I don’t know and, also, how much you taught me.
You taught me that it’s okay to cry.
It’s no secret that we share a propensity for tears. In fact, it’s no secret that it runs in our entire family.
Remember the Christmas that Mommaw made chronological photo albums for each grandchild, full of pictures of ourselves with beloved friends and family members from birth to present day? I was about halfway through mine, blubbering like a sea lion, when I looked up and saw every single woman in our family all in the same tear-stained state.
How many times have we cried during our conversations? Too many to count.
I used to think crying was embarrassing, sometimes happening at extremely inopportune times and making our inclination for it seem like a nuisance. But, you taught me to embrace my tenderness. You taught me to remember that every time I cry a tear, it means that I am alive and that I feel things and that there are things in this world worth feeling to the point of tears.
You taught me that life’s not fair. And you taught me to get used to it.
If you had a nickel for every time I screeched “but that’s not fair!” at a decibel level that only a middle child can reach and only dogs and moms can hear, you could afford to move to the beach and make hats every day. Yet, with the wisdom of a sage and the patience of a saint, your response to my whine was perfect every time.
Remember when Carman would beat me to the front seat in the van for the ride to school?
“But that’s not fair! She rode in the front YESTERDAY!”
Do you remember your response?
“Life’s not fair. Get used to it. And get in the back seat. We’re going to be late.”
There are so many other examples from so many different contexts, but this fact remains across all circumstances: life is, actually, not fair. Deserving people get overlooked for promotions; kind people often get the short end of the stick; older siblings totally cheat on the front seat rotation. Life’s not fair. And thanks to you, I know how to take it in stride.
You taught me to give it a chance.
I will never forget the first time I tried cucumbers. You had asked me to help make supper, and I was chopping them for the salad. I remarked on my distaste for them, and you asked if I had ever tried them. I had not. There was not one note of annoyance or condemnation in your voice. You simply asked in your disarming way, and I immediately understood how silly it was for me to make such a judgment without first giving them a chance.
It sounds trivial, but that night I learned a valuable lesson that, to this day, shapes how I see everything from new foods to new friends.
You taught me that the weather can change, and when in doubt I should take a jacket.
I don’t have to wear it, but if I get cold I’ll have it with me to put on. Solid advice.
You taught me that this, too, shall pass.
It’s the ultimate encouragement when I’m in the middle of a situation that feels both world-shattering and never-ending.
It’s also an incredibly poignant existential philosophy.
This moment, this day, this experience, this life will pass. Cherish it. Live it. (See, mom? That philosophy degree isn’t totally useless.)
You taught me that, in most cases, less is more.
Remember when I was thirteen, and I had an obsession with black eyeliner? You watched me walk out the door every day looking like a raccoon. And you never said a word.
And do you remember that day, several years later, when we came across photo evidence of my unfortunate choice? I asked you why you never stopped me from wearing it. You said you knew that if you forced me to take it off, it would only teach me that you didn’t approve of my appearance and make me want to wear it more. Instead, you wanted me to learn, in my own time, that less is more.
And you know what? I did.
You taught me that pretty is as pretty does.
As good, loving parents do, you often assured me of my physical beauty. You taught me the fundamentals of skincare and makeup application. When I was younger, you complimented my appearance when you knew I needed the encouragement.
But, as excellent, God-fearing parents do, you just as often assure me of my true beauty. You tell me you’re thankful to be my mom because I’m compassionate and caring. You tell me you’re proud of me for loving and serving my husband and my little boy. You rejoice with me when I tell you, through joyful tears, about what the Lord has been teaching me, and you tell me how happy it makes you to see me seeking Him.
You taught me to see others as you see me, as God sees me. To look first at their heart and regard not their outward appearance. It is a skill that takes years to learn, and I’m still learning; but I see now how fortunate I am to have a mom who took the time to teach me.
Thank you for who are you and for who you taught me to be. Thank you for the nights when you stayed up late to sew my Halloween costume and for the mornings when you rose early to make my breakfast. Thank you for loving me unconditionally, for disciplining me, for encouraging me, for believing in me.
And thanks for making me take a jacket.
Courtney Thrash at I Wonder As I Wander
Courtney Thrash lives in Arkansas with her husband of six years (and high school sweetheart!), stays at home with their two-year-old son, Theo, and blogs at I Wonder As I Wander. She’s an Arkansas native and University of Arkansas alumnus, avid reader, lover of donuts and Coke, and combination rule-follower and free spirit.