Love Letter to Mom

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

A couple of years ago I wrote a letter to my mom. I was angry and needed to get some things off my chest. Some things that didn’t belong to me. So I purged them with that letter and I felt much better. Today, I’m writing my mom a different kind of letter. A love letter.

Dear Mom,

I still tell the story of hill cows and moo cows, as you relayed it to me driving through Malibu Canyon on our way to the beach sometime before I even got close to double digits. You said that moo cows stayed on the flat ground while hill cows went up into the hills to graze. Moo cows couldn’t get around up there, while hill cows had two shorter legs so they were stable while standing on the side of the hill. You said the moo cows would fall over if they went off the flat land. You told me that hill cows had to make their way all the way back around if they passed a good grazing spot because they couldn’t just turn around, on account of their legs being different lengths…and I believed you. One day I’ll sucker my own kids with that story. I love you for that story.

Speaking of loving you, one of my favorite things about you was your laugh. Your infectious, perfectly toned, beautiful, hearty laugh. Maybe because you taught me my own sense of humor, I was able to make you laugh quite often, even when you didn’t want to. Those times I cherish the most. Like the time we were at Disney World and your head got stuck in the “pretend” shackles. You tried so hard to be mad, but we were on vacation and you were grateful for me reminding you of that. Your sense of humor was silly, and such a great contrast to Dad’s dry sense of humor. You allowed me catch your laugh whenever you used it, and I love you for that.

Speaking of Dad, I don’t remember a time when you ever fought in front of me. Even when I showed up after a weekend with him and I’d cut my own bangs. I was so proud of myself that I’d used the wastebasket to catch my fallen hairs and not make a mess. I learned years later that you were furious with him over letting me out of his sight long enough to cut my bangs in a neat and clean downward angle, 1-inch from my hairline, the day before I was having pictures taken at JC Penney. I never thought that you and Dad getting a divorce was a bad thing; it was just the way it was. I’m so grateful to you for refusing to talk bad about my dad, so that I could make up my own mind about what a great father he was. Thank you for not tainting my view of him with your experience, and letting me create my own ideas about who he was. I love you for that.

Thank you for taking care of me when I was sick. For knowing the difference between when I was sick and faking it. Thank you for getting sober. It made talking to you much easier. Thank you for being strict with me when it came to doing my homework and going to school. Thank you for making sure dinner was on the table every night, no matter what. Thank you for making sure I had clothes to wear to school—new clothes, even some years. Thank you for taking me to AA meetings with you, which helped me better understand what you had gone through to get sober, even if was only years later.

Aside from the laughter and your sense of humor, I might have loved you most for our Dodger time together. You taught me how to eat a peanut properly, and even how to throw them at unruly fans “on accident”. You taught me that win or lose, your team is your team. That’s how I feel about you, Mom. I might have lost you 18 years ago (wow, has it really been that long? I’m always surprised…), but we’re still in this together, you and I.

You were the best mother you knew how to be, and that was a pretty damned good mother. For a lot of years I made judgments about the kind of mother you were. I thought you could have done better, I thought you should have done things differently, I thought you were off your rocker numerous times. But the truth is that we could all do better, in whatever we do because no one is perfect. I have effectively removed my expectation of you to be perfect; I wish your father had done the same. One thing I knew for certain on the day you died was that you loved me for my entire life. Some days I knew you were angry with me or disappointed in me, but I in the end, I didn’t question your love for me. It was fierce and deep and never ending, even if I couldn’t see that always, as a child. I wish your love for you had been a tenth of what it was for me.

I’m so grateful to have been your daughter, and to have learned from your actions, your inactions, your humor, your anger, your words, your pain, your beauty, your heart—your heart was bigger than you ever knew—your tears, your laugh, your relationships, your spirit, your soul. I still learn from you now, and I expect I will for many years to come.

I miss your smile, your hug, your cough—you know my cough sounds just like yours, if that’s possible.  I miss  your voice, thoughtful wink, and your sense of humor. I miss a lot of things. And still, you taught me that I’ll be alright without them—even without you.

In the last letter I wrote you, I released some anger I’d felt. It felt good to do that, and I’m glad I did. It’s important that I owned my anger and then released it. It’s gone now, and all that’s left is love. All that’s left is me. And I love you for that, too.

Love always,

Me

I wrote this letter with inspiration from Lindsey over at A Design So Vast. She writes the most beautiful [love] letters to her children, and while I just adore her for this, I couldn’t get over thinking that mothers ought to receive love letters from their kids, too. I hope she gets one or a hundred from hers as they grow up.

  • lemead

    Oh, Dian,
    This is so beautiful. You bring your mother to life so vividly, and your love for her is tangible. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Dian I love how you got the inspiration for writing this. And I'm so happy that you posted the first letter you wrote, for contrast. Thank you for sharing your love for your Mom with us. beautifully done.

  • This is a remarkable letter.

    One thing that I really liked is how you mentioned her behavior toward your father. My husband's mother is the exact opposite (even though she doesn't see it). It is unfortunate because his sister practically hates their father because of what his mom has said. (Does that make any sense?)

    Beautiful letter.

  • whollyjeanne

    beautiful. absolutely beautiful.

  • You know, the funny thing is that I never knew they fought until after my mom died and my father shared some stories with me. I almost couldn't believe it. Which made me more grateful…I respect both of them so much for that. Thanks for taking the time to comment. And YES…that makes complete sense…it's sad when parents choose to influence their kids with negativity instead of trusting that their kids will come to their own “right” conclusions, even if it's different from theirs.

  • Dian,
    I don't know what to say. I read the first letter the other day, the one where you released your anger. And now, after reading this one, I can feel the release in your words…and feel the love. The mother-daughter connection is such a deep one. Thank you.

  • Thank you, Jeanne.

  • Thanks, I really appreciate your comment. It kind of took me by surprise when I re-read my letter from 2008…the realization that there's so much love, regardless of how angry I once was with her. I'm so glad I got to share that here.

  • Thank you, Lindsey =). She was such a vivid woman…so many parts to her whole. Just like us, eh?

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