Where to begin? I know you’re not one for doling out the sentimental stuff. I also know that you secretly love it when other people do. That’s the dichotomy of you, and that, at the heart, is what makes you a classic Italian mom. You’re not a one-note dish. That’s also what makes you the most phenomenal mother.
How to explain? How do I describe a person who’s been my everything for 35 years? Who has simultaneously frustrated me and been my lifeline through every difficult and joyful experience? How do I thank the person who’s at the core of every good—and maybe sometimes bad—decision I’ve ever made?
To start: You, more than anyone in my life, have challenged me. You have pushed me to my highest potential and you’ve never accepted less—from me or anyone else for that matter. When I might settle and get comfortable, you rattle my cage. Every call that I’ve made outside of my comfort zone has ultimately paid off. And each time I made that call, I was able to do it because you gave me the courage.
But here’s where you take that wonderful quality and double-down. Because for every time that you’ve challenged me, you’ve also given me unconditional support. Even when you disagreed with every bone in your body. Even when I came to you with a degree from an expensive college and said, “I want to be a professional dancer.” Even when I called you and declared, “I’m going to move across the country for a man I met in Las Vegas.” You questioned. You made sure I thought it through. And then, when you realized I wasn’t budging, you let go. Why?
Because you lift people up, Mom. That’s what you do.
The most beautiful thing about you is that every single thing you do is with love. The way you care for those around you. The way you cook your (most, most delicious) meals. The way you nudge and poke and prod us to death. You drive us crazy. You do it because you love us. And although Alex might call you T1000 and Dad might say you can be cold, all of us know that your heart is pure, molten gold.
Our relationship is complex, yes. But that’s what makes it so fulfilling. And when I take a step back and think about the kind of mother I want to be, the classic Italian mother, I realize I’m setting the bar for success by what you’ve already achieved. You made me a better person. You let go so that I could grow. And you made me feel so very loved.
I love you, Mom.