It’s ironic. For someone who considers writing to be a true passion, I often have trouble putting my memories into words. My mind runs like a silent film. I only think in pictures. I can visualize down to an article of clothing. I can feel every bit of emotion from the moment. But the captions are always blurry.
From that time I was in 4th grade; I walked into the girls bathroom talking shit about a friend only to see a stall door swing open and feel the cold rush of her crying past me. I feel the wave of guilt and humiliation I felt back then. The reel skips to a 19 year old me. I’m spinning in my stepdad’s computer chair talking with my mom. We are solemnly discussing the latest person to have wronged me and his unforgivable assaults on my being. I’m angry and cynical. I hear nothing but I’m watching my mouth spew out hate and frustration and pain. I say something along the lines of “He deserves to be hurt.” My mother snaps back and horrified she says something to the effect of “No Chelsea, just because someone hurts you doesn’t give you the right to hurt them back.”
It doesn’t really matter if those were the exact words that flowed between us then. It matters how it made me feel. That guilty and humiliated feeling when I’m faced by the reminder that no one deserves to have pain inflicted upon them, even if they’ve done it to me.
One of my favorite authors writes that “the fathers job is to teach his children how to be warriors. To give them the confidence to get on the horse to ride to battle when it’s necessary to do so. If you don’t get that from your father, you have to teach yourself.”
So to my mother: You’ve taught me doing battle isn’t with an iron fist. That facing the trials of growing up should be done with strength but accompanied with compassion and grace.
You’ve taught me that listening is sometimes more important than getting your point across
You’ve taught me that trying to change people is a tireless game you will always lose. That it’s not simply right and wrong but right or wrong for you.
You guided a difficult girl through her awkward youth with more patience than I probably deserved.
You always tell me that since I was a baby I’ve been introspective, observant and emotionally intelligent. Maybe that’s true. But without you, I think the world would have successfully suppressed those qualities a long time ago. Thank you for always celebrating who I am.
If a mothers job is to teach her children how to treat people, then you have done your job and more.