“Your mom would be so proud of you.”
This is the hardest question for me. At one point in my mother’s treatment, she told me that she was NOT proud of me.
It felt like she had ripped my heart out.
There was a lot that went into this moment- misleading information from my parents, ignorance on my part, fear of the future, resentment on both sides… neither of us were right or wrong in that moment. I am happy to say that by the end of my Mom’s life, she would have denied that she had ever thought it.
But what about now?
Now that I don’t have her feedback, I sometimes feel that I have no way of knowing whether she would be proud of who I’m becoming. Sometimes I try to compare myself to her to see if I could possibly measure up…. but that’s impossible, too.
My mom was gracious, kind, moral, intelligent, strong, and full of integrity. All the things I want to be. No matter how much I hope to be like her, though, we’re such different people. Whereas my mom was straight-laced, I can be more free-spirited. Where she could be accommodating, I can be stubborn. How could I possibly compare myself to her?
I don’t really know. And it helps me understand that COMPARISON is never the right answer. Perhaps I should start to think about whether or not we would still be friends. Whether or not I could still update her on what I’m up to and get her support.
That being said, I have to remember that if she were around, we would still disagree as I continued to grow up and make my own decisions, establish my own beliefs about the world.
Hell, we definitely didn’t always get along in real life!
We fought in a way that I have never fought with anyone else in this world. You know why? Because she was my safe space. She was the person I could reveal my most raw, sensitive self to without fear of rejection. She took me at my best and my worst. Of course she would be proud of me.
In the three years since she has been gone, I have been my absolute best self. I have been my absolute worst self. If she were around, she would have loved me through it all.
When I remember my mom being proud of me…. I see her crying in the front row while I sing. I see her beam as I hold up my diploma. I also hear her tell me that she knows in her gut that I can conquer a daunting week. I can smell her hug before bed time when my heart was hurting. She didn’t just support me when it was good, she had faith in me when it was bad.
If things had gone the way I wish like hell they could have, I would have wanted her to be proud of me just as bad as I do now, under the real circumstances. And I know she would have been. Actually, I think she is even more proud of me now. I have worked so hard to get her. I have worked so hard to mourn her with both honesty and resilience.
The important question to ask is not “would she be proud of me?” but “would she love me?” Of course she would.