I’m not going to lie, because somehow you can laser through all the layers of fluffy, motherly platitudes (Of course I like you all the time! Every minute!!), right to the ugly bone truth of it: since our family hit puberty, I don’t know what I’m doing about 64 percent of the time. That’s a high percentage. It probably scares you a little. I know it terrifies me.
You have changed in just a few short months, from the chatty, happy children who flopped all over me like puppies, to these broody, internet-savvy mini-adults who roll their eyes. At me. A lot.
But still, underneath the eye-rolling, I see you there, trying out your brand new wings. Even deeper underneath are two kids who are scared to fall. And you wonder if you do fall, how you’ll ever be able to get back up and try again.
So what I’m coming to realize is that it is my job to help you fly. And it’s also my job to make sure you stand up again when you fall. It’s my tremendous, absolutely staggering task to help two human beings Figure It All Out.
I wish you could read my heart because in there you would see all that crazy, eye-popping love for you. And there you would find all the incredible things you do that you think nobody sees. It’s all in there, lovingly tucked away.
You see, I know that someday I’ll need to share them with you. There will come that moment where you’ve crashed in a plume of smoke and you forget, for a moment, what you’re capable of. But I’ll be there to remind you.
Because you make me proud, in so many odd, mismatched ways that you would never guess in one million light years. It’s a pride tinged with a bit of sadness sometimes, with a heap of frustration a lot of other times, but always, always saturated in a mother’s unconditional love.
I’m proud when you get honor roll and stand up there onstage with your certificate and a big camera-cheesy smile.
I’m proud when you don’t make the honor roll but your math grade goes up five points, because you (and I) have earned every last one of those points with hours of stubborn, often tear-filled determination over the kitchen table.
I’m proud of you when you sign up for the talent show to sing a song you wrote, despite the fact that you have never, ever sung a solo. But you get up there anyway and you give it all you’ve got, in front of all the people whose opinion is beginning to matter more than mine.
I’m proud of you when you are too shy to sing a solo, despite the fact that we have spent many pesos and many hours driving you to your lessons. That’s where I hear you sing Castle on a Cloud in a voice so pure and so sweet I have to pretend I’m focused on my cell phone so you won’t be embarrassed by your old sniffling mom.
I’m proud when you stand up for what’s right, when you call people out who are “just joking” about disrespecting women, or other races, or any marginalized group of people.
I’m proud when you get it wrong, act out in class or make a wrong choice, and you go on your own to find the friend or the teacher so you can apologize.
I’m proud when you go against the grain and do your own thing, like choose your own music, make your own friends, even if it’s Not The Popular Thing To Do.
I’m proud when you see an unfairness and tell me I’m wrong, even though it’s almost impossible to swallow in the moment, even though your delivery might need a bit of polish.
I’m proud of you, even when you crash and burn, even when you fail, even when you lay there for a moment to catch your break before getting back up. I’m honored to be by your side, putting back the broken pieces and nudging you to your feet again.
I may not know what I’m doing 64% of the time, but when I watch you taking your test flights I am impressed by the power of the other 36%.
And, goodness gracious, I am so very proud of you.