To My Mom, Thank You For Your Lessons And Sacrifice

To My Mom, Thank You For Your Lessons And Sacrifice

We can't help but become them, so why not love them?
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I am surrounded by so many wonderful women in my life, and with the passing of Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of what I should be, unconditionally, grateful for. I look to my mother, to my boyfriend’s mother, to the mothers of my friends, to grandmothers and aunts. I can’t help but feel so much gratitude for all that they’ve sacrificed, and continue to sacrifice, for the children they’ve so selflessly sculpted into the wonderful human beings I love so much.

On a psychological level, there’s the definitive function of the mother figure. Maternal preoccupation, as theorized, is a necessary motherly instinct that helps in the formation of the child’s psyche. On a less analytical level, we all, eventually, become our mothers for a reason. My anal, at times frantic, desire for a well-swept floor no doubt came from my mother’s post-natal maternal preoccupation that lasted from birth until this very moment- which included her surrounding me, and at times bombarding me, with home-centric rhetoric on cleanliness. I am anxious, which is something I didn’t wish to inherit though; but whether it’s biological or psychological, I did. I’m also overtly caring and sensitive beyond my own control and these are things I can thank my mother for.

Support, in the terms we so often think of it- financial -wasn’t always an option for my mother. I’m one of four on my mother’s side, and sometimes the bills were overwhelming and the paychecks were underwhelming. I saw my mother cry often, and at times I felt the burden of her single parenthood in moments of my childhood. This might sound toxic or debilitating to my wee self’s development, but in my bigness, I have grown to find that I not only empathize with my mother’s actions but I appreciate them. I watched her work hard, not so that I didn’t have to, but so that I knew how to. I gained from her a work ethic that most of my bosses praise, and I gained from her also a sense of responsibility and pride in my own accomplishments. It wasn’t an easy childhood, but it was rewarding. I know now that while life may not always come up roses, you can always adorn it with fake Dollar Store roses so that the neighbors think you’re fancy.

I also thank my mother for the things she couldn’t do; the things that made me angry when I was younger but now relish in as an adult. I can remember hating having to babysit, but as I’ve grown older and have left the house I’ve found that my siblings look to me as something of an authority figure, someone they can look up to and towards. I’ve become a solicitor of thrifty advice (“Nathan, if you join a bunch of clubs, Mom won’t ask you do the floors every day!”) and a purchaser for the forbidden (“The hamster was only $15, it’s an investment in her future!”). I know how to change diapers and make awesome pancake breakfasts, and I have great patience with little people, sometimes more than I’d like. I had to be independent, and I know I can be depended upon, and all because of my mother.

As I'm writing this, it is my mother’s birthday, she’s turning fort----thirty. It is the 15th time we’ve celebrated her thirtieth birthday, and it is the 19th time I have owed my mother more than I could ever repay her.

Cover Image Credit: freestocks-photos / Pixabay

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To My Dad Two Years After You Passed Away, You Would Be So Proud Of Me

730 days too long.
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Today marks the two-year anniversary that my dad passed away. Things have been hard, there have been ups and downs, but here we are. Today, tomorrow, and the next day, I will always be upset about the situation, and upset that I lost one of the best people in my life. This just about wrenched out my heart, but it made me think of all the great memories we had together. Here's a little something to make up for some lost time.


Dad,

It's been two years since we heard the news. I remember the day so clearly still, and some days I cry because it still feels fresh. My heart still hurts, and I miss you more than ever. But, what I can say, is life is going okay.

You would be proud of me, and our family.

Mom is doing well, Allegra is abroad and still taking photos, and Gabby is grinding on architecture, working hard on cool projects. Grandma is well, peppy for the most part. We are all closer than ever, we all get along very well. Not that we didn’t before, but we are really strong together.

Life isn’t the same, at all. We have adjusted to changes, and have grown stronger because of it.

I’m really happy. I have a great group of friends, summer is in just a few weeks, I have a killer job, and the sun is starting to come out, even though snow sometimes sneaks into the weather forecast.

My headspace is clear. My mind is positive, and I focus on loving every aspect of life. I have realized that it is so much harder to be mad and think negatively than think happy, and have a positive mindset. This is something you taught me but didn’t really kick in until about a year ago.

I go to the gym a lot now. More than I ever did when you were here, but I do it for myself now. My personal best was running nine miles, something I would have never dreamed of years ago. I don't play tennis too often anymore, I wish you were around because we had our matching tennis rackets.

I wake up some days thinking that you are still here, hoping to be one phone call away to tell you about the wild night I had, or boy problems that you might understand and comprehend, or a cool job opportunity that I was just offered. It’s so hard without you, and I wish I could tell you everything.

I went to prom. It was a blast. I went with Boston. The boys had a baseball game that same night, and so we took photos before their game, watched the game, had an impromptu pizza dinner, and then went to prom and danced as hard as we could. It was a night to remember.

You were right about loving college.

School is good. So good. It is everything I ever wanted. Committing to Washington State in the airport that one day with you and mom was exactly what I wanted to do, and was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I thrive here. I've met my favorite people, my classes are great, and the football games are some of the best things I have ever experienced. I go home every dads weekend, it's too hard without you, but I know we would have had a blast. I have to be honest, sometimes I want to drop out, and say I could do fine without a degree, but then I think back to everything you wanted, and everything I want in my future, and realize I could never. I love school, and I have found what I am good at.

I joined a sorority last year, my second semester. It was another great decision I made for myself. I love it so much. I have met some of the best people I could imagine, and its made college so much more do-able. I have a leadership position. I am our Vice President of Public Relations (VPPR) and it's what I am good at. I love my position and it's given me a better perspective, and leadership skills I need for my future. I live in the house, and this house has become a home.

I gave back, and my heart was full.

I know you hated social media, but I am actually very good at using it and marketing for others. Anyways, I raised over $200,000 for St. Jude this past holiday season. It was super special. I got to talk to Michael Strayhan and Robin Roberts on Good Morning America; I wish I could have told you what it was like. Breathtaking. But I know this is something that you would have loved me doing. You might have said, “Danni, what the heck were you thinking?” but as you know, and as you taught me, I follow through, and put my best work forward.

Mom and I tried to do what we used to do.

Mom and I tried going to a Seahawks game. It was fun but weird. We didn’t get our Beecher's mac n’ cheese like we always do or the halftime snacks. I remember those games that would be pouring down rain, we would be completely soaked by the time we were in our seats, freezing cold. I miss that. You would do your hawk dance as we went to our seats, watching people laugh and have their faces decked out in the green and blue paint. We lost some of our favorite players – Richard Sherman was a real bummer. I got to meet Jermaine Kearse though at the golf course one day I was working, that was awesome. It was one of those days I wish I could have told you about. A few days ago, mom sent me a photo of her with a couple of the Hawks, and I wish so badly you could have been there with her.

For my spring break this year, Mom and I went back to Hawaii. Same thing, great, but weird without you. We stayed somewhere different this time, which was nice. I think you would have really liked it. Good food, nice beaches, and sunshine, with a splash of adventure. It made me think of all the family trips we took and we would ride on your back when you were pretending to be a turtle and we would yell, "surfin' USA". We brought your ashes with us, leaving a little piece of you in Hawaii. Everything about that trip made me want to go back, wishing you could be there with us.

This summer, like last summer, I’m going to be working at Newcastle golf course and for Issaquah Parks and Recreation, kindercamp. People up there knew you or had heard your name before. Last year, when the sun was rising or going down, I always knew that you were looking over me, almost being re-assured that there was a new day ahead or the day was beginning, and that life was so beautiful.

Michael is doing really well. He is still one of my best friends to this day, even though we don't talk too much anymore. He is doing everything he wanted to do, is going to college, and is running his own successful business. Dad, you would be so proud of him.

I still think about my wedding.

Don’t worry, no guys yet. How I would love for you to have walked me down the aisle. I know everything I want to happen and play it out perfectly. You always knew my wedding I was planning was going to be killer. We got time, and I won’t let you down.

A lot has happened in the past two years. I know I am missing so much that I wish I could call you up and tell you about, but in short, this is what you have missed. You are what I have missed.

I miss you more and more each day. I will always put my best foot forward, and try to make you proud even if you aren't here to guide me along. I didn't exactly see it when you were here, but we are so very similar. I carry your heart in mine when I am with people, and I carry your mind in mine when I make decisions. It's those super beautiful moments in life now, I wish I could share with you, but I know that you see them with me. Its those super wonderful people that I meet now, I wish I could introduce you to, but I know that you already know them. I love you dad.

Can't wait to see you again one day.

With love,

Danni

Cover Image Credit: Madonna Messina

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An Open Letter To My Mom Who's Been There For Me Through It All

As long as I have you by my side, I'm not afraid.
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Mom, we’ve been through it all. From consoling me when a high school friend was being unnecessarily problematic, helping me decide how to word a particular English essay, and to deciding on the right college, I am one of the lucky people who get to proudly say that you have been right at my side through it all. I never appreciated just how much of a sounding board you were for my thoughts and opinions until I went to college and did not have you by my side every day.

I never fully realized just how much better I felt after telling you about my day’s daily dramas, and how much attention you gave to my stories, and how engaged you were in even the most minute details. You really truly care about what I have to say, and make me feel important and like I matter.

I now try to make the important people in my life feel just like how I do during a conversation with you: understood and acknowledged fully. It takes a special kind of friend, a rare one, to give me the same kind of good feeling I do when I talk to you. I have luckily found some at school, but that will never compare to the love and attention that you give to me.

It can be confusing and disheartening at times while away from home, where I can be unsure of who is a true friend, and who I can confide in. All of the confusion is alleviated whenever I speak to you on the phone. You laugh when I laugh, and cry when I cry. My pain is your pain, and I know that you always want me to succeed and do my best in life, no matter what career path I choose.

I would be lost without our phone calls and conversations, and I guess I have never really expressed to you how much all of your support means to me. I always just assumed that you knew. After all, how could I not appreciate you after all that you have done for me? You drove me an hour and a half to ballet classes every week, just so I could dance with the best teachers out there, and helped me pick out outfits to wear countless times. You allowed me to make my own decisions regarding which high school to attend, and left the decision up to me to transfer my senior year.

At the time, I wished that you would have just told me what to do, and make my decision easier. However, you knew that I would ultimately feel better if I made the choice myself, with no one to blame or thank but myself. As my choice regarding high school proved to be successful and make me happy, I had you to thank for the endless support, but myself to thank for making one of the toughest decisions of my life.

That life lesson was invaluable and shapes every choice that I make. Without you, who knows what I would have done? Not only in that one instance, but in multiple aspects of my life, I have you to thank for the endless support. The future and growing up is terrifying, but as long as I have you by my side, I am not afraid.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram

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