Dear 12-Year-Old Me:
I know you’re really mad at Mom right now. I can’t remember what she did, but I know you just let out a wordless shriek and slammed the door to your room really, really loudly. Then you grabbed your teddy bear and launched it at the door so hard its leg came off. You flung yourself onto the bed and sobbed. You’re just so mad!
But I need you to know something. Twenty years from now you’re lying in a hospital bed. You’ve been very sick but, don’t worry, you’re going to be okay. Mom is lying there beside you. In fact, she hasn’t left your side for the whole week you’ve been in here. She’s asleep now. She’s finally let herself sleep because it turns out you’re out of danger now. In a little while she will help you walk down the hall, carefully wheeling your IV pole and keeping track of all the wires hanging from your body so you don’t trip. She will take you into the bathroom and she will bathe you and wash your hair. She will make sure your sheets are changed and your room is tidy. And she will tuck you into bed, just like she did when you were little. Just exactly like that.
See, it doesn’t take a crisis for you to know you got very lucky in the mom department. It’s because of all the little ways she’s taken care of you all your life that, when you do get sick, you know, without a doubt, that she’ll be there for you. You’ll be 32 years old but you’ll need your mom and she’ll be there. And she’ll do what she does: she’ll make everything alright. So, yeah, 20 years from now, Mom is going to save your life. But what else is new?
Wait, there’s something else. Twenty years from now you also have a baby. I know, super cool, right? And yes, that means you did, in fact, find a husband. (Mom was right, you’re not going to be alone forever.) He’s great. You love each other very much and he’s an awesome dad. Which brings me back to the baby.
As I’m writing this to you the baby is asleep. I sang him “Michael Row The Boat Ashore” just like Mom used to sing to you and I put him in his crib. He likes Kraft macaroni and cheese too, but Mom still makes it best. Sometimes he gets mad at me just like you’re mad at Mom. He doesn’t throw his teddy bear, but the other day he bit me, so it’s pretty much the same. But I knew what to do. You’re going to know what to do. Not all the time (secret: I don’t think Mom knew what to do all the time, either) but a lot of the time.
See, you’re going to hear Mom’s voice in your head, talking to you all those years ago. And then you’re going to turn to your son and say in a calm and measured tone, “No. We don’t bite. Here, let’s play with Goofy” (or something like that). And then you’re going to pull out the Goofy doll (it looks a lot like the one you had as a kid) and you’re going to do silly voices just like Mom used to do. And the baby is going to laugh. And you’re going to laugh. And he’s not going to remember that he was mad at you. You’ll remember. But you’ll forgive him. Just like Mom is going to forgive you when you go back out there and apologize.
And you are going to apologize. Because you love your mom so much and you really are sorry for screeching like that. You’re even going to sew the leg back on your teddy bear. I know because I still have it. (You really need to learn how to sew better.) And Mom will hug you and tell you it’s okay. She’ll tell you she loves you and you’ll tell her you love her too. And you’ll store that up in your heart and give it back to your son one day. And he’ll take it and store it up in his.
This Sunday is Mother’s Day. Twenty years from now you live really far away from Mom. You’ll call her and send her something, but you’ll wish you could be there with her. You’ll wish you could give her a hug and tell her in person how much you love her and how you are who you are today because of her.
So, could you do me a favor? Will you give her a hug for me? Will you go out there now and tell her how much we love her? Just wrap your arms around her, okay? And tell her she’s the best mom in the whole wide world. Because she is. And we both know it.