Sunday, 12 May 2013

Dear Mom

It’s Mothers day.

Wanna know what I want? I want to sleep. ALL. DAY. LONG.
No breakfast in bed. No flowers or handmade cards. Just me and my pillow.

Reality check, that’s not going to happen. Quinn’s Soccer game starts in an hour.
Oh who’s kidding who…I can’t wait to watch her play.

Even though I am a mother,  today is a day to be a daughter and honour my own mom. It will only be a simple phone call as they are enjoying retirement poolside down south. My mom always says if she had known how much fun grandkids were going to be, she would have had them first.

No shit Sherlock…I also think it would be way more fun to be able to spend a little quality time with the offspring, shove sugar down their gullets and then hop on a plane to the sun where no children need to fed and cleaned.  
Sign me up!

The first Mother’s day after the girls were born, I gave my mom a card with one simple sentence written inside.

“Mom, now I get it”

Now I get what it’s like to truly love someone unconditionally and worry about them NON STOP. I get what it means to say you would lay down your own life in a heartbeat for someone else’s safety and happiness.
And truly mean it.
I get what it is like to spend countless nights thinking of the “What if’s” and “What about’s”. To question every choice you make as a parent in charge of raising actual human beings. To wonder if you are really putting enough money in the therapy pot, what their future shrinks will think about you and what diagnosis will lay on your shoulders.

So today my post is a letter.
To my mom.
Perhaps it will give you insight into my own crazy, but I guarantee it will let you see how truly blessed I am.

It’s a long letter. You don’t have to read the whole thing. Except you mom, you need to read it through cuz I forgot to send you a card.
And then put a sticky note with my name on the big ring.

Dear Mom,

38 years ago you were celebrating the best mothers day of your life as you cradled the most perfect child in the world lovingly your arms. I can only imagine what you were thinking as you gazed into my beautiful eyes and breathed in my flawlessness.

No wait…not about me. Right. Lets try again.

Dear Mom,

Thank you.

Do those words express enough emotion for the woman who built and raised me? I really should buy you a steak dinner or something.

Don’t kid yourself mom, my own therapy pot ran dry a little while ago. But you did the best with what you knew.
I mean come on, look at me. Enough said.
Pat yourself on the back woman!! Gold star for you.

You took what you knew and changed what you needed. I will do the same and so will my own girls. I guess that’s how we keep getting better at this right? I figure by the time I am a great-great-great-great-great-great-grandma, our family line of mothers should have this all sorted out.

I want to honour you for the adversity you faced and the role you took to stand strong as our family journeyed its path. 35 years ago you and dad landed in Calgary with two little girls in tow after a company transfer across the country, only to learn all of our belongings had been lost in a transport fire. Guess what? I don’t remember and didn’t know how truly awful it was. You didn’t know a single human being in this city, yet you protected us from the tragedy and all I knew was that we were safe and our family is what mattered. I didn’t know it at the time, but at the tender age of three I had my very first lesson in treasuring the important things in life: my family.

You began to plant our roots with nothing tangible, yet you watered our family values and we grew strong.

FYI mom, I also know that this fire protected you from ever having to admit there were no minute-by-minute pictures of me as there was for my big sister.
The evidence, or lack thereof, had been destroyed.
Silver lining right?

I’ll admit it; your sacrifice to work outside of the home may have gone unnoticed and unappreciated. So today I want to notice it. And appreciate it. I would scrub stairs with my own toothbrush to be able to provide my girls with the extras. While you and dad struggled behind the scenes, we enjoyed private school and braces for a million dollar smile. You knew when it was important to buy the name brand jeans when in my teenage wisdom I felt that’s what I needed to fit in. But you made damn well sure my clothes did not define me and my self-worth was not extrinsically based.

Although I used to think that money just came out of the machine in the wall, because of you (ok, maybe more dad) I know the value of money. You made me get a job and earn what I wanted. But you also knew when it was time to open your wallet when I didn’t need a lesson. 
You house is hands-down the best value for groceries in the city.

Without a doubt my sense of humour comes from you.
 Ok, sometimes most times at the expense of you.
Thank you for your innocence and your ability to laugh at yourself. Because of you, I know how important that is.

Like when the attendant at the gas station asked what oil you use and you answered “Crisco”.

Or when on a tour at Universal Studios and everyone was asked what their favorite ‘Soap” was and you loudly piped up from the back…”TIDE!! It really does work the best on stains.”

Or my personal favorite, when at a high school parent-teacher interview with Mr. Grumpy Chemistry Pants and the underwire from your bra malfunctioned and ended up poking through your sweater. And you decided the best course of action was to pretend you were recording the interview and leaned forward as you asked the teacher with zero personality to “speak into the microphone”.
Located just under your boobs.

Or when you crashed into the garage for the fourth time or high centered your car on a parking block and bribed me with a chocolate bar not to tell daddy.

I still laugh when I think about the time our house was broken into and you were in hysterics as you described in perfect detail for the police report the diamond earrings that were stolen.
Only to have the officer ask you if they looked anything like the ones in your ears.

Yeah…those are the moments that I am talking about. They rock.

Thank you for carrying a wooden spoon in your purse. No, scratch that. I can only stir spaghetti with a spatula now. But I do know what respect and a healthy dose of fear are. Thank you for teaching me to think before I speak, especially with my own children. Again at your expense, but I learned that phrases such as “do you want to be grounded?" sound a wee bit silly as we all know the answer is probably NOT going to be an emphatic “Yes please mom! That sounds terrific. While you are at it can you take away my car keys?”
Thank you for passing on the tradition of cleaning up the dog shit to get out of grounding.
Best. Consequence. Ever.

I am sure in the middle of my teenage years you were not quite sure how you were going to make it through raising sweet little me. 
Thank you for not killing me when you busted me for sneaking out.

Or taking the car without a license at age 15.

Or having fake ID. How confusing it must have been to see me on government ID as ‘Jodi’.

Or not actually ‘staying’ at Angie’s house when Angie was ‘staying’ at at our house.

I learned creative parenting from you. I can only imagine your laughter as you took the pack of smokes I was ‘holding in my bag for someone else’ and while I slept, secretly poked 100 pin holes under each filter.
Well played Marg, well played.

Thank you for leaving work to hunt me down in the mall when the teacher called to ask when I would be ‘feeling better’ as I was missing a test that day. Although we could have done without you pulling me out of the shopping centre by my earlobe in front of my friends to drive me back to school.
Especially since school was over for the day.
If you had let me speak in the car…that’s what I was trying to tell you!
Calling dad for a ride home while the janitor waited with me was a bit awkward. Just to let you know, I feared for my life on those drives in the car with you when you were mad. That was scary shit man.

Mom you have many roles.

You are a wife of over 45 years. Because of you I know what the word ‘marriage’ means and that it is an action and not a feeling. Dylan and I are blessed to have such great role models. Packing up my toothbrush when the going gets tough is simply not an option.

You always say more is caught than is taught.
I caught it mom.

Although shocked when I introduced you to Dylan and then told you “oh by the way, congrats your gonna be a nana”, you have always shown Dylan and I nothing but respect and support. I can’t imagine how you must have felt as Dylan and I began our very uncertain path together. Having to adjust your own dreams and expectations for your child while you questioned your own parenting choices.

Quite simply mom, without you in our corner, things may have looked very differently.

You are a friend, a sister and an aunt. In all of those roles you know what love and work it is to keep a relationship going through moves and miles, distance or time. You have wisdom to discern when advice is needed or just a quite shoulder to cry on. You have a gift to help people see the funny or take them shopping when the only answer is a new pair of shoes. Or to know when your only solution for self-care is a new pair of shoes or a glass of wine.
Thank you Lord for giving me the same size feet as my shoe-aholic mother.
That’s one hell of an inheritance.

You are a Pastor. Even though you are recently and well deservingly retired, this role will always be a part of who you are. You have had the honour of welcoming new life into a hospital room in the wee hours of the morning. You have held hands in prayer as last breaths are taken, family tears are shed and life leaves this earth.  You have celebrated new couples commitments to one another, honored parent’s public declarations of faith for a new child and walked beside families as they mourn loss at a graveside.

You served through your faith at each step.

Mom, you were called into a role that I believe was chosen for you and you have made an impact on others in your humanness. And in your humanness you are loved.  You showed me when it was time to challenge my beliefs and admit when I was wrong.
And then fix it to make a difference.

I know that in my teenage years I didn’t make this job as spiritual leader very easy.  Although at times it did feel we lived in a fishbowl, I know people were watching you more…waiting for me to fall so they could pounce. You handled my short skirts, hidden tattoos and piercings with grace. You were my mom first. Thanks…and I am sorry.

As a woman in a man’s world, you taught me to push gender boundaries and that being a girl was to be celebrated, not hold me back or define my life path.
The world was mine because of you.

You are a grandmother. Quite frankly mom, I don’t think I could have made it through the girls first year without you. From the diaper and formula fairy arriving at my doorstep or calling you at 6:00am on a Friday to simply say “Ready” and know that you would be over within minutes to let me crawl back into bed while you filled my freezer with meals and kicked my laundries ass.

You have created a special relationship with each of the girls that spans their ages and stages. They love you with all of their heart and when people say it takes a village, well my girls got one hell of a village. Thanks for baking with them and allowing glitter at your house, it means less money for me to throw into the pot.
And you know what that means? More money for wine!!

Watching you be “nana” is awesome. You are happiest when all your ‘chicks are back in the nest’ and you are surrounded by those you love.
Don’t kid yourself; ‘Free-Food Fridays’ at moms house is my favourite day of the week.

But mom, to me you are simply my mom. The one who gave me life. Who raised me to know right from wrong.  To do good things in this world and love people without judgment. To dream big and then work hard to achieve it. To throw rocks at boys and know when ice cream is more important than being grounded.

You taught me how to tie my shoes and pee on a potty.
That’s been very beneficial, thank you.

You taught me when natural consequences were necessary even though it must have killed you to see me hurting while really only wanting to rescue me from myself. You showed me the meaning of firm loving boundaries balanced with the importance of a hug before anything else.
You taught me when to pick my battles or say ‘this too shall pass’.

Most of all, you showed me how to be a mom.
And for that mom, on this Mothers day, I am grateful.

Thank you.
I think we did ok.

I love you.

P.S. Don’t get too emotional and sappy…Shady Pines is still on speed-dial.


  1. Jessica,
    We always threaten my father-in-law with Shady Pines as well! Weird, right? I guess great - and dysfunctional - minds really do think alike!

    Beautiful tribute to your mom and the spirit of motherhood in general, my friend.
    Be well and Happy Mother's Day a day late.

  2. Thank you!! I'm hope that Mrs. Hook also enjoyed her special day!

  3. You really should but a "tear-jerker" warning at the top, sheesh I would have had the Kleenex closer...beautiful, and as always, snortingly hilarious!

  4. Like. Like Like Like....

    Your letter rocks too, and from what I've read, you are one hell of a great Mother yourself....

  5. Wonderful tribute . . . I, too, had an amazing Mother . . . and she too got the "I get it now" card more than once. You'll get one too . .. in due time . . .


  6. Jessica,
    I'm not sure if you've had time to check your e-mail - between raising little Stilwells and tasting various wines, you must be slammed - but I've sent you another guest post. So if you need to fill some space and maybe lose a few readers in the process, let me know, okay?
    The Hook