If you asked my mom who my favorite person on Earth is she’d answer without hesitation (and likely with evidence): my dad.
I grew up knowing that my dad almost died when I was three months old. I was raised with awareness that I might never have known him. I never even considered the possibility of ever losing my mom. It just wasn’t a thought I had, and the combination of those ideas breeds an unbalanced appreciation in an immature mind.
My mom watched and supported as my dad took me on countless camping, skiing, lake, whitewater rafting, and fishing trips. He carted me all over the Carolinas and both Virginias with our YMCA Indian Princesses group. He made up for the time he lost while traveling for business. My mom made snacks and set up crafts for the nights when it was our turn to host the weekly meetings with the other dads and daughters. My mom did what she always does, she made stuff happen.
My mom is a do-er. Most moms are. They do whatever needs to be done to keep their kids’ lives moving forward.
Motherhood terrifies me. I’m not afraid of kids. I love kids. I want them someday. I just don’t know how mothers do it. I can barely keep myself organized. Right now I’m sitting next to a pile of clean laundry that’s been on my bed for two days. I slept next to it. What I’m saying is, I don’t even have my life together and my mom would’ve had 14 more loads of laundry washed, dried, ironed and in the closet in the time that I’ve shuffled this pile around on my bed. My mom could tell you my pile of laundry’s fate. She could tell you it will end up on my closet floor. She could tell you the items that belong in drawers will make it there, but everything else will be pulled out of the closet floor pile as needed, and possibly ironed. She could tell you all of this because she fought it for 18 years. My mother ruined my teenage life by making me clean my room and closet.
I once told my mom I hated her because I had to clean my room before going out. That’s motherhood. It’s making stuff happen, even when your kids think they hate you for it. That’s what terrifies me.
But kids grow up. Daughters become women. They learn to appreciate what they were taught. They get kicked in the butt repeatedly by things that say “Oh yeah, mom was right about that.” They realize that the woman who challenged them, and made them work hard to become real, functioning humans was on their team the whole time.
My senior year of high school I skipped school to hang out with my mom. She proposed the idea while wrapped up in the swirl of emotions of losing her mom and watching her youngest child choose to move away to college. We spent a day roaming around downtown Greenville. We avoided the WYFF cameras on the Liberty Bridge because it’s not great to be seen on television roaming a nearby city on your sick day. We explored the West End of the city that would become my home a few years later. We just spent the day genuinely enjoying each other’s company. We intentionally avoided life’s responsibilities to tend to the more important. It’s something we don’t do enough. I don’t mean that we don’t do it often, I mean that when a person devotes her entire life to making sure yours goes well there is simply not enough quality time to be spent showing her how much you appreciate it.
If you asked my mom who my favorite person is she’d say, without hesitation, my dad. Not because it’s true, but because I’ll never live long enough to give her any kind of thanks that is proportionate to what she’s done for me.
Life on Earth is finite. I didn’t lose my dad when I was a baby. I know him. I love him. He is wonderful. But I’m old enough now to understand that one day I’ll lose both of them. I don’t know how I’ll be able to live in that world, but I trust I’ll be equipped to handle it because I’ve been given the tools.
Honestly, I just hope we’ll all live long enough for me to show her I can properly deal with piles of clean laundry.