Dear Mom: A love letter

Dear Mom:

I hate shopping for Mother’s Day cards.

Sure, they are sweet and floral and sometimes frilly. They have nice sentiments.

They say nice things to make the moms in our lives feel good about themselves.

But each year, I stand in the same overpoweringly pink aisle, picking though rows and rows of cards only to return the 38th rejected, cliché “Life wouldn’t be the same without you,” card.

You probably haven’t seen “500 Days of Summer,” Mom. I know you well enough to know that you’d probably hate it. But there’s this line from the film about greeting cards that keeps coming to mind.

“Why do people buy these things? It’s not because they wanna say how they feel, people buy cards ‘cause they can’t say how they feel or they’re afraid to.”

Now, I’m sure this is not sanctioned as card-buying law. But I can see some truth to it.

Because you see mom, if I had to sum it up, life wouldn’t just be the same without you. Life simply wouldn’t be without you.

And it’s taken me the better part of 26 years to realize how deeply I feel that.

And now, here I am, nearly two months to the day before my own daughter is due.

You know my excitement, but you also know my fears.

But now it’s time for you to know something.

One springy, Sunday afternoon, you said something that changed everything for me.

“What if I can’t do it?” I asked you tearfully, visions of labor and delivery tormenting my head.

“You do what you have to do for your children, Emmilie,” you said.

And then you told a story I had heard a hundred times. But this time, it was different.

When I was born, I was diagnosed with meningitis, Group B strep and phenomena. The doctors told you that if I made it through the night, I’d probably be OK. But the odds were not good. 10 percent. They gave me a 10 percent chance to make it through that first muggy July night.

Mom and Em (2)

Yes, I’d heard this story before. Countless times.

But you had never told me the rest of the story.

“So just after giving birth, I sat on a hard metal chair all night long next to you in the ICU and sang to you,” you told me. “I had sung to you when you were in utero, and I knew that you needed my voice.”

It was a moment of beautiful, grateful understanding.

I’d always thought about those traumatic first few hours of my life very disconnectedly. I certainly don’t remember them. I’ve heard the stories, sometimes heard them through yours and Dad’s tears.

But you’ve always told me that I made it because I was a fighter. Always have been, always will be, you said.

But it was you. It was you all along, Mom. It’s because of you — in so many ways — that I’m here today, waiting to welcome my own daughter into my arms.

It’s no secret that I have not always enjoyed my pregnancy. It’s been painful, uncomfortable and highly emotional.

But I too have sung to my daughter, Mom.

And if — heaven forbid — something should happen to her, I would sit on that metal chair for hours with her. I would sing to her until I didn’t have any breath left in my body. I would do what my mom did. I would do whatever I had to for my child.

Your life has been a beautiful tribute to that notion, mom. You have done whatever you had to do.

And my gratitude is beyond measure.

Mom and Em (1)

Thank you for sitting through every choir concert, play and dance recital.

For taking me to countless doctors appointments, for wrestling me (once literally) into the dentist’s chair.

For the late nights helping me with homework.

For long talks laughing together no matter how many miles apart we are.

For showing me that faith, prayer and courage can change lives.

For your excitement to be a grandmother.

For always, always being my mother.

Because it’s true, mom. Without you, life wouldn’t be.

You’ve taught me to have joy, to be strong, to be brave.

But most importantly, you’ve taught me to be a mother simply by being you.

So happy Mother’s Day, mom.

And thank you for the life you continue to give me.