Old picture of my mom and I

With Love From Tallahassee: A Letter to My Mom

Dear Mom,

There are a lot of things I could say about growing up and being lucky enough to have you as a mom. I could talk about how we rarely ever fought (except for all the times you wouldn’t let me drive somewhere when I first got my license). I could talk about all the times you’d volunteer at my elementary school and how everyone loved you to pieces. I could talk about how you’ve always been my favorite person to hang out with—Target runs all the way up in Tallahassee without you just aren’t the same.

But maybe I’ll save all of that for another letter. Mostly, I’m writing this to tell you that I’ve realized, with increasing clarity since being in college, how influential you’ve been in my life. I remember there were so many instances in school where I’d do something, or I’d say something, and people would smile at me and tell me I sounded or looked just like you. That’s probably one of my favorite compliments to get: “You sounded just like your mom right then.” What an honor it is to remind someone of a person so selfless, kind and compassionate.

Graduation party Adriana Nguyen

I’ve always struggled with that. With being kind, with being selfless. I know we never fought, but I remember growing up and being so angry at everything all the time and wondering how in the world you always seemed to keep your head on straight and stay calm. I don’t know how many times you’ve told me to let something go just for me to stalk back into my room and stare at the ceiling, letting the steam billow out of my ears like a cartoon character.

A lot of my adulthood (or young adulthood, really, because you’d laugh if you knew I referred to myself as an adult) has been full of learning how to emulate these aspects of you I admire so much. I think it’s starting to work. I’ve been trying to let my troubles roll off my back like you always have, though I know there must be some part of you that never forgets them. I try harder to find joy in the simplest parts of life—I lay out on Landis Green when it’s a beautiful, sunny day because I know it’s something you’d love even if it makes me uncomfortable how hot it can get outside. I try to make good first impressions because I don’t know a single person that’s met you that doesn’t love you all the way to next Sunday, and I think it would be a life well-lived if I could try to be the same.

I notice so much of you in what I do nowadays. I buy all the same brands when I go shopping by myself, but I also take the same routes through the stores even though they’re not the ones five minutes from home. At Publix, I hit the bakery and deli first. I stop by the frozen section at the end. I use those weird, silicone dryer balls just like you do (only surely the ones at home have now found themselves to be dog toys by now). I line my dresser drawers with contact paper, and I try to squeeze in a slow morning with a cup of coffee when I can. You always seem to be able to, no matter how busy life always gets.

My mom and I on the way to FSU Adriana Nguyen

I guess, all this being said, the most important thing I want to say is thank you. Thank you for making me into the woman I am today. Thank you for responding to my texts about what crappy college meals I’ve scraped together and saying how cute I look in all the goofy selfies I send you. Thank you for calling me on my way to class and listening when I tell you about everything I’ve gotten up to in Tallahassee, and thank you for coming up to visit when you can. There’s nearly four hours between us, but I see you now more than ever, even if it’s in ways I never realized I would.

Thank you for being my backbone and my therapist and my favorite person to gossip with. You’re one in a million.

Love always,

Baby Girl

P. S. Thank you also for all the pictures of the dogs. You have no idea how much they’ve helped in getting me through all this college stuff—I show them to virtually everyone I talk to, so that’s still never changed!

P. P. S. I love you!

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