I don't know the name of the author of the quotation in the title, but I do know what was meant by it.
Do our moms know us better than we know ourselves? "I knew before you did!" my mom says with a smile nowadays. I couldn't come out back then. It was too tough. Who made it tough? Me. What I thought was a secret eventually surfaced.
I recently asked my mom, on the day of my brother's wedding, "It really doesn't bother you that if I get married someday, it won't be 'normal' like this?"
She replied with more motherly love and warmth in her tone than I could ever convey through words on a page: "Me? This is your life." Her tone then quickly changed to one of concern. Her head tilted forward, and her eyes peered over her glasses as she went on: "Now, dear, the bar is free, so please go easy." She does know me better than I do! One word: legend.
When I was about 15, a few stray kittens appeared in our backyard. It took me months to befriend the only survivor. "Boo" then became part of the family. She never quite lost her stray roots and was always nervous when strangers were in the house. My mom always said Boo only ever fully relaxed when I was home. Best friends, the pair of us.
A few years on, Boo was a permanent fixture in the house. By that time I had moved out and was seeing a girl. She was my first girlfriend. The relationship remained secret for months. I couldn't come out to my mom. It was far too daunting. I struggled with what felt like living two separate lives. My mom has always been interested in my life and what I get up to. They were innocent questions, but I couldn't quite tell the whole truth, the honest truth. I did mention my girlfriend at times, but never as my girlfriend, just as my "friend."
The pressure got to be a bit too much for me. I decided I was going to bring my girlfriend home to meet my mom -- still as a "friend," though. Baby steps. I had brought her to the family home a number of times before, but it was always strategically timed when I knew nobody was there.
The day arrived. My mom was home alone. The three of us sat in the kitchen. My mom made coffee. I saw Boo at the back door and let her in. She ate some food and then looked around to see what was happening. She made her way over to me, nothing new. Her next move was completely unforeseen. She made her way over to my girlfriend's legs and manoeuvred in and out between them, rubbing up against them in a familiar fashion. I saw it. My mom saw it. My mom looked at my girlfriend, smiled, and said, "Oh, you've been here before!" If I ever wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole, that was the time. What had Boo done?! It was time to leave, and fast. I couldn't get us out of the house quickly enough.
I was distant from my mom for a couple of days. How could I face her? How was I going to explain it all? I knew she wasn't stupid, and I was convinced that it was written all over my face. I got back to my place one evening. There was mail. The handwriting on the envelope was my mother's. Anxious and confused, I opened it. It was a letter written on yellow notepaper. This piece of paper was going to change things forever. It read:
I'm so happy you came home yesterday and introduced me to your pal. She seems like a nice girl. She seems to care about you.
The important thing right now is that you know how much I care about you. I hope you understand just how much. You are part of me, you came from me, you are my proudest creation (along with your brother). I feel so privileged every day when I think about the gifts I have received. One of those gifts is you.
Your life is your own and is for nobody else to judge. People might still try, but I know your heart, and I know your strength and courage will overcome any adversity you might face. Your independence (which sometimes borders on stubbornness) has always reassured me that you are here on this Earth for some great purpose. From a very early age it was clear you are a leader. Your passion has always moved me. I admire my little girl. I'm so proud of her.
I will always welcome you home with open arms. That will never change. I'm your mother. I love you. It would bring me great sorrow to ever think that you felt you couldn't talk to me. About anything. You have my trust, you have my confidence, you have my love, you have my all.
We're all here in this life in pursuit of happiness. I feel like I have found it. I have a wonderful daughter, son and a loving husband. It all awaits you, my dear. Give it your best shot, and bring whoever you want with you on your journey. Love is a wonderful feeling, and whoever gets to share in your heart, I'll count them very lucky, whoever that person may be.
You know how proud I am of you. I know soon you will feel proud, too. It's the way you were built, and you've always been true to yourself and your values. You have energy, you have passion, you have compassion. You're a person who can change thoughts, change perceptions. You do it to me all the time!
All I want is for you to be happy. I want you to remember what you're capable of. Remember your potential. And remember that I love you. Your family is behind you.
With all my love and more,
P.S. Don't be mad with Boo, she wants to share in your joy. Just like your Mum!
It was a brave step, I thought, for my mom. She didn't know how it would turn out. It was a chance she was willing to take. She knew she didn't have it wrong. She had always known. She had been happy to let me come out in my own time, but something encouraged her to make the first move. Maybe it was Boo.
A very tearful phone conversation followed. I then made my way home. True to her word, she was standing at the door when I arrived, arms open. We didn't really say much. We didn't have to. We cried. It wasn't sadness. It was relief. It was love, that type that you only feel with your mom. She led me inside, straight to the kitchen table. Down I sat. I got flashbacks. I cringed for a second and then remembered I didn't need to. It was different now, thanks to my mom. A big mug of coffee was put in front of me. It was followed minutes later by a plate of scrambled eggs. My favorite!
My mom was my first teacher. It has taken me some time to appreciate the true value of her lessons -- maybe I still don't. The worth of unconditional love, acceptance, support, and encouragement from your mom? Well, that's just priceless.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom, from your biggest fan (along with my brother!).