In honor of mothers and all they do

Published 11:28 pm Thursday, May 10, 2018

An open letter to my mother:

I’ve always wondered how it is you do the things you do so simply. Our world is so dark and cold, but you radiate love and compassion as if it were as instinct. I sometimes wonder if certain women were born to be mothers by fate. Sometimes I feel like I wasn’t. I am strong and determined, but I feel my independence and my wanderlust could overrun my desire to care for a child. You gave up your freedom for me, and I am grateful.

Have you ever regretted it? Throwing away your freedom for me. I wasn’t your first child, but I am one regardless. I know how much you care for me and my brothers, there is no question to that, but I can’t understand how someone could sacrifice their aspirations so simply. I have photos of you at my age — you were gorgeous (and still are, but you disagree). The you of my generation is so gifted and content, but she is nothing like the girl you aspired to be. You dreamed of attending college and being a radiologist. Sometimes I feel that I’m just missing a larger picture. Maybe you are everything you aspired to be, but you were unaware of what you wanted at the time. Maybe you never got what you wanted, but fate gave you what you needed.

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I’ve always loved hearing the stories of you and dad growing up. You guys were so young and so happy. You both always remind me that you’re happier now then you were before, but I’ve never understood that. “We’re blessed with wonderful children, a beautiful home, and each other,” you always say. Dad likes to tell me about when he had a crush on you. You were a waiter at grandma’s restaurant and dad wanted to talk to you, so he went in to buy a water. He never fails to tell me of how you made him pay for a water, or how frustrated he was. Did you ever truly want to settle down, or did you do it for him out of love?

I truly believe you are a blessing and curse in my life. You’re only a curse due to the difficulty of comparing myself to you when you were my age. Just like you are now, you were kind, thoughtful, compassionate, beautiful inside and out, and so much more. You are perfect, and you are everything I want to be. I sometimes wonder if you gained your personality from Mamaw, who is just as amazing and perfect as you. You both shine iridescent rays of perfection upon my imperfections, and it is damaging for a self-esteem regardless of positive intentions. Your friends always comment that we look similar, but no one has ever told me that I act anything like you.

I wish you still had copies of what you wrote when you were my age. You’ve always told me that you were a writer as a teenager, but that you weren’t talented enough to pursue it. Our family, especially your mother and father, disagree. I despised writing as a child, but as I have aged I have fallen in love with it. I wonder, like many other things, if I have gained this attribute from you. It feels like the only trait I have failed to acquire from you is the urge to start a family. It scares me that you were the same as me, but when you grew up, you changed. It’s not that I dislike the idea of copying you or maturing, but I’m terrified of losing my wanderlust.

I’ve never understood mothers, but I’ve lost the need to. I know that you are selfless and positive and there is absolutely nothing else like you. You often receive comments upon your beauty, but may I tell you that you are just as strong and fierce as you are appealing. You are appreciated and loved more than words can depict. I hold an undying respect for all mothers, but you especially. I read this poem by Rupi Kaur, my favorite poet and feminist, and it encouraged me to understand mothers a little better. “I struggle so deeply to understand someone who can pour their entire soul, blood and energy into someone without wanting something in return. I will have to wait until I’m a mother.”

Emily Day is a freshman at Harlan County High School and is a member of the Bear Tracks newspaper staff and a student in the communications/creative writing class at HCHS. This is a continuing series of columns produced by student writers.