Dear Mom, The other day I filled out an application for a mentoring program, and I was asked to list the things I’m passionate about/things that give me life. And I listed a lot of stuff—Dad and Austin topped the list. How investing in a relationship with them is something I’m passionate about because I refuse to let the label “family” mean that I can take their love for granted.
And some small, but important stuff made the list too—like how the simplest of nights are those that give me life—the ones that include my girlfriends, pizza and wine. Those are the nights that charge me when my energy is depleted. The nights when the people that aren’t my family love me like they are because in every way but through blood they are.
But somewhere in that list I found something that surprised me. I had written that I’m passionate about letting people know they matter. And those words staring back at me scared me a little because I wondered if I did that well.
I wondered if I lived out that passion. I wondered if those who know me would say that I let them know they matter. Not in the cheesy way, but in the real way. In the way that’s spoken with words and affirmed with actions. In the way that reminds someone that screwing up doesn’t make them a screw up.
I wondered if people I’ve met once or twice or see on a daily basis only in passing would say that I never make them feel insignificant because you don’t have to belittle someone to make them feel less than. Ignoring them works too. And how many people do I ignore when I’m caught up in “me”? Not in a malicious way, but in the way that says “I’m too interested in looking at my phone to look at you”. Or “I don’t feel like talking so I pushed the ‘door close’ button on the elevator before you had a chance to get on”. Or “I’m in a hurry and don’t have time for you to go the speed limit so I’ll pass you and give you an annoyed look because you should have obviously known I was running late when I was tailgating you for the last half mile”.
And I wondered about you, Mom. I wondered if I showed you that you matter. Some of the time I did. Some of the time I didn’t. And that’s okay. You would tell me that’s nonsense—you would tell me what you always told me “if all the daughters in the world we lined up, I’d still pick you to be mine”. Essentially you were telling me that for all my flaws, you’d never want another. And for that, I’m thankful because you let me know that I matter.
If I could tell you anything right now, it wouldn’t be how I hope you felt like you mattered. I’d want to tell you that you made me feel like I mattered. It would be that a lot of people still tell me that you made them feel like they mattered.
And so maybe I got this passion from you, Mom. You’ve passed a lot onto me, and I think you passed this on too. This passion for letting people know they matter—I think it came from you, from the mother you were, from the memory you’ve left with so many.
Thank you, Mom. Thank you for being someone who was passionate about letting people know they matter.