I Love you, Mom

I love you, Mom.

 

Mom

 

Her clothes color the room

with orange and green. 

She stands 

ready for the world,

Her heart pounding in her skull. 

My heart does the same, creating a visceral symphony.

 

Oh, mom, mom, mom. 

Don’t you know I don’t miss you? 

 

When the priest pauses after a striking word,

my mom fills the silence with hand-stitched prayers.

She mends the corners of the room together

I peek sideways at her closed eyes and knitted life,

She reaches out her hand knowingly, cocooning my fingers in “I love you’s” 

It takes everything in me not to flinch.

 

Oh, mom, mom, mom. 

Don’t you know I don’t miss you?

 

I will usually look at the folds of her knuckles

observe the way she's sitting

inhaling her image.

For the rest of mass I hold my breath.

 

Oh, mom, mom, mom.

Don’t you know I don’t miss you?

 

(I whisper) I love you, Mom.

 

My mom is obsessively selfless. I inherited this. These common values sometimes connected us, but more often than not cause arguments. To summarize, I wouldn’t want her to go out of her way to help me because it was hurting her. 

“I can do it myself!”

“I’m just trying to help - “

“I don’t need help Ma, you have to make dinner and take Katy to soccer. I got it.”

And we would both end up frustrated. Sure, I was a hypocrite. But more than that, I was selfless, and that meant not letting my mom ever feel the weight of my responsibilities and feelings. So the fighting and misunderstanding would continue. Until senior year.

A few things happened, my maturity spiked, and finally, I learned how to treat my mother right.

However, although I do treat my Mom well now, my selfless nature still sometimes gets in the way of completely connecting with her. 

 “Good morning honey!! Can you talk??” a text only sent after yesterday’s “Goodnight! Love you!” accompanied with the necessary sleeping person, moon, and heart emoji and the day before that's “Good morning sunshine!” 

I originally didn’t know how to respond to these messages because you can just feel the love in each one. That scared me. They were so openly caring. Loving. Tender. Underneath the love in these texts was a longing. A longing for me. And I knew if I texted her back with that same enthusiasm, she would start to get attached. She would live off my happiness and it would carry her through the week. And of course, the questions would haunt me, “If I became a reliable source of love, what would happen when I wasn’t? When I messed up? When I disappointed her?

I knew exactly what would happen: I would have an inescapable sadness because I had made my mother, the most beloved person in the world, suffer. So I didn’t want to say anymore than “I love you mom! You’re the best!” because I was afraid of loving her too honestly and then letting her down. 

This ideology soon faded, however, when I called her and heard her voice, dripping with emotion, asking questions, leaving room for interjection or feelings. I realized I had to be vulnerable and stop worrying so much. Who cares what happens? I love her.

So I told her over the phone how much I missed her. Her voice got clearer after, like I had unclogged her feelings and my heart too, felt decongested.

After that, I went to our school’s Her Campus meeting and was told the theme of the week was International Women’s friendship. I brainstormed before coming to the obvious conclusion: I should write about my Mom.

This poem is therefore in honor of my Mom, Kristine Nathan. It’s set in church, our church, because I usually sit next to her during mass. Every time, we’ll share moments when we look at each other. I try to pretend her smiles and hugs and hand holding doesn’t affect me, but in all honesty, I am moved. So, this one’s for you, Mom. Love you with all my heart. Will try and get better at telling you that. 

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