writing’s what my mama gave me

My mom likes to tell people that my twin sister kicked me out of the womb,  and that when I came out, I came out wide-eyed…and quiet. I looked around, gave everyone in the delivery room a glimpse of my inquisitive blue eyes, and then began crying like the baby I was.

I don’t know how frequent quiet newborns are, but I quickly became a special kind of quiet: locked tight and unrevealing. Personally, I would have gone bonkers if I had a child – or even a friend – who stayed as bottled up as I did, but my mom decided that my quietness was not permanent, nor that it was malignant evidence that I was a failure of a human being. She didn’t give up: she told me to write.

I vividly remember many times of verbal paralysis. When I wanted to say something –  something personal, my feelings – one part of my brain used to say that I couldn’t, or that my thoughts didn’t deserve to trouble my listener, or that any problem I might’ve had was not as bad as someone else’s and it didn’t deserve attention.

The other part of my brain already wrote everything I wanted to say on the wall of my mind. I knew exactly what I wanted to say and I couldn’t say it. It was all right there, crashing against the barrier between my brain and my voice, and I couldn’t say it. So when my mom suggested to write it down, she found a loophole.

I think this kind of behavior would scare people. I often made my mom feel as though something much worse was going on behind my eyes than what actually was because I hesitated so severely. (I didn’t even have a speech impediment or a stutter – I just didn’t get anything out.) I know it probably scared her, too, sometimes, but it never stopped her from helping me say what I wanted to say.

She knew I had something to say, even though I stood silent. She didn’t give up – not once! Not once do I ever remember, in my entire life, her ever throwing her hands up and saying “If you won’t tell me, then just go to bed.” She asked me yes-or-no questions, she wrote down sentences for me to complete with my thoughts, she made me feel like my thoughts were worth something. She challenged my brain.

I have no idea how one day could make up for any fraction of that gift.

Since this is my first year of legal adulthood, Mothers’ Day means something different. It’s become a reflection on how the heck I got here. It made me realize that I really doubt I would be a writer if it weren’t for her. I didn’t realize on my own that writing was an option for sharing my thoughts – and, more importantly, that my thoughts were worth enough to be read. This blog probably wouldn’t be around if it weren’t for her, because I asked her – in writing, of course – what she’d think of me blogging, and she said I would do well. And so here I am. Thanks to her.

Indeed, she doesn’t write the blog; I do. But it feels darn good to have had someone who read it instantly when it was born.

There are oodles of other things my mom has taught me, but the importance of not giving up – on myself, on others, on ideas and goals – is probably most important. I value her so much because she didn’t give up on me, and I can only hope to equal that gift by regifting it to others and to her. Support is a part of love that should get more limelight because it feels incredible to have it. Almost invincible – only better because I know that if I fall on my face, I’ll get scratched up but I’ll have someone who’ll make me my favorite cup of tea and tell me how funny it looked when I fell.

Thanks, Mom. For your support.

And for being someone who I can make cooking jokes with:

we love capers so much that mom thought it'd be funny if we stocked up...

we love capers so much that mom thought it’d be funny if we stocked up…


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