The other day, Miss G was complaining about her friends’ lack of practicality.
“I mean, Mom. They don’t even know if their cars get good gas mileage or not. Ugh.”
“Well, they probably don’t have to think about those things.”
“Yeah, I was just realizing that. They probably don’t pay for any of that stuff themselves.”
And just as I started wondering whether the fact that I make Miss G pay for her own gas and car insurance is putting too much responsibility on her, she piped up again.
“Mom, sometimes I think my friends have no idea about real life. I mean, I know I have a lot to learn about being better with saving my money and stuff, but I’ll get there. At least I’m trying. And they’re worried about ACT scores, and I’m like— suckers. ACTs don’t matter to me; I’m already taking college classes. And I’ll be done and have a job way before them.”
“Yeah, and with no debt, which is huge. You’re pretty ahead of the curve as far as real life goes.”
“Yeah,” she says. And then, all in an impulsive rush, she adds: “I guess what I’m saying is— well, thanks for raising me like that. To be like that.”
I called on every emotional reserve in my body to not cry and instead said in what I hoped was a calm way, “Well, that was my number one goal in raising you: to get you ready for the real world. You’re way more prepared for actual life than I was at your age.” Or possibly now, I think but don’t say out loud.
“I think it was good. That you did it like that,” she said. And the conversation turned to other things.
For Miss G’s entire life, I’ve braced myself against the day that she disowns me on behalf of her childhood. I dread that she’ll call me out on all my bullshit, ask ‘why’ about the biggest mistakes I’ve made along the way, and then tells me that what I think are justifiable reasons for this or that are actually unforgivable excuses.
So I will take this thank-you. I will take it as my best-ever Mother’s Day present, even if her sentiment of gratitude doesn’t hold up all the way through her adulthood.
This weekend is for celebrating moms. But beyond that momentary pedestal, let’s also remember that all moms were plain ol’ humans once upon a time, and that means they’re imperfect. Moms make mistakes and bad decisions. Moms say things they regret later.
Moms, like every person ever, do what they do based on what they know in that moment. And, in the face of the hardest job on the planet, they do the best they can. And that’s worth celebrating.