To My Grown Children: Thanks for the Gifts
I’ve been looking over all the gifts you’ve given me, and I want to thank you right this minute, although I’ve loved them forever. Your mom can get kinda mushy, as you know.
Mother’s Day is the day when I truly feel honored. Birthdays are more like happenstance; everybody has them. On Mother’s Day though, I think about my specific and particular good fortune. Only I am your mother. Only I have received the gifts that you have given to your mother.
First, I want to thank you for the unique experience of being your one and only mom. I would have learned other things from other children, of course, but what you taught me is just right, and just what I needed.
From you, my son, I learned to feed your creativity that knows no bounds, that inhales facts, and reframes them in astounding new forms. I saved the dozens of notebooks full of your drawings, so that one day you will understand what a sparkling child you are, and how delightful the world finds your imagination. Memorable phrase: “These strings I tied all over my room are a transport system, Mom.”
From you, my daughter, I learned to support the will, the force of life, that pulsed through you from the day you were born so pink. It radiated as you grew, and I learned to honor your air and space. I saved all the awards you’ve earned, so that one day you will understand that you have had that strength all along. Memorable phrase: “ I can make this myself.”
From you both, I learned unconditional love. Mine for you, and yours for me. I didn’t think that kind of love exists anywhere else in the world, besides between mother and child, so I feel fortunate to have learned that with you. Here I am now, much older, and I’m finally seeing that there is one other form of unconditional love, and that is for oneself. Had I not been your mother, I might not have known what it felt like, or recognized it when I started feeing it. I’m happy hanging with myself these days.
The problem with roles is they can be sort of confining, as we try to become whole human beings out in society. They’re not for nothing though. The behaviors and attitudes we take in those roles remain and inform other parts of our lives. Here we are being adults on our own, you and I, and we still hold mother and child inside us.
Having been a mother means I can see the children inside of the adults I meet in my work now. Having been a mother, I have some tenderness and compassion for the native creativity and wick of strength that tremble inside all of us as we confront obligation and change. I respect what is inside.
You’ve helped make who I am today. Thanks for these gifts.
Bio: Emily Conyngham is a writer, storyteller, photographer and video maker based in Austin, TX. When she’s not creating her own content, she shares her gift for language with clients, corporate and individual, to uncover, define, and communicate their stories and narratives, online and off. You can find her work at emilyconyngham.com