The greatest gift my mother ever gave me was an effortless blend of acceptance and encouragement. But I didn’t fully appreciate the gift until a recent four-wheeling trip to Sedona.
Bouncing along a rutted, winding, red road, my mother rode stoically as I piloted our Jeep. She hadn’t flinched when I proposed the off-road outing and didn’t scream when I nearly rolled the bright red Jeep (although she did flash an all-too-familiar scowl).
Even more remarkable, she stoically accepted my bossy side-seat driving once she took the wheel.
But then, her love has been so unwavering that it easily withstood teenage rebellion and found beauty in all my flaws — mainly a lot of bossiness. (I blame my father.)
She is the person I call when I need a pep talk or a reminder to live life one day at a time.
She has never held me back, even through all my experiments.
When I asked, “Can I paint my room, change all the light fixtures in the house, remodel the bathroom and then redecorate the living room?” She always said “yes” (just mind the wood ceilings). So I merrily installed crown molding upside down, gaining confidence with each mistake.
When I wanted to be a magician, then a cook, a park ranger then a photographer, she always smiled and said I probably could because I was so talented.
She gave me permission to try anything that interested me, and so I learned to create, build, write, experiment and fail.
She has more patience than most and more forgiveness. She forgave me when I snuck out and met a boy at the park at age 16 (she called the cops though and told him to never come back). And she patiently bites her tongue when I still rant about how she should be driving.
She did forbid sleeveless shirts throughout my childhood, not out of modesty, but because I burn easier than a marshmallow and she wanted to protect me. She says nothing now — and I burn myself every time I forget.
She quietly set up each adventure — and rigged the safety net — the daylong rock-hunting trips, the search for ghost towns, the checkoff list of national parks.
She is the one who always bought my clothes two sizes too big, so I had room to grow. And thanks to her I have.
Now, if I can but learn to give myself the same unwavering acceptance. And when I’ve managed that, perhaps I can give it back to her as well (especially while she’s driving).
So Mom, on this Mother’s Day, I just wrote to say — you’re a heck of a driver.