Letter To My Mother: I Love You Forever, The Bad Mother, Belly-Buttons and Cabbage Patches Edition
When I was a child, you told me that if I unscrewed my belly-button, my bum would fall off, and I believed you. You told me that if I lied, the bottom of my tongue would turn black, and I believed you. You told me that I was found in a cabbage patch, that fairies lived in my grandmother's forsythia bush and that cats came from heaven: I believed you, I believed you, I believed you.
You told me these things, and I believed you, and you told me that you loved me, and I believed you, even though I knew, deep down, that these were different kinds of believing. And so when you told me that you loved me, I said that I believed you and that I believed you more than when I believed you about the fairies. There's belief, and then there's belief, and there's a very great difference between believing in love and believing in fairies. I believed that I understood both, and most of all, that I understood you.
But you told me that I couldn't understand you - not that part of you, not yet. You told me that I couldn't possibly know how much you loved me, that you loved me beyond my imagining, that your love for me was something that I wouldn't understand until I knew the experience of such love for myself. You told me that my love for you was not this kind of love. This, I did not believe. I thought that a mother's love was knowable, predictable, measurable. I thought that a mother's love - your love - was simply a reflection of my love for you, a secure love, a safe love, a love that could be forgotten, sometimes - didn't you stop loving me in those moments when you were angry, as I stopped loving you, threw off your love like an old, scratchy coat, when I was angry with you? (No, no, you always said. Not possible. I might not like you right now, you would say, but I still love you. I can never not love you. I didn't believe you) - a love that could be taken for granted. You told me that I didn't understand the weight of your love, its indisputable, inevitable, unavoidable, infinite heft. I didn't believe you.
I believe you now.
I believe you now because now, I know this love. I know this love -
know it in my soul - because now, I have children of my own. And I love my children - I know this - more than they will ever, more than they can ever, love me. And I know that they may never understand this - how my love for them is in some ways unrequited, how my love for them is always in some ways an experience of loss (oh, how they grow, ever bigger, ever stronger, ever closer to leaving me), how my love for them is fierce and passionate and indestructible and infinite, how my love for them is so different in so many ways from their love for me - until they have children of their own.
And that's okay. My love for them doesn't need reciprocation in kind. It needs only them. I know that you know this, because that's how you love - how you have always loved - me. I know that you know this love, because you taught me this love.
And I love you - indisputably, inevitably, unavoidably - for that.
Always your daughter,
Hey! It's almost Mother's Day! Why not write a letter to you own mother? Leave your link below so that we can do a Mother's Day Letter To Our Mothers letter-reading tour...
Catherine Connors blogs at Her Bad Mother, where she sometimes blogs about her mother, the original bad mother. Okay, maybe a lot, but her mom is awesome. (You want her mom? You can find her at her own blog, where she now stakes out bad grandma territory.