Ode to Mother

640px-Mother_and_daughter_in_India_1920Mother! You were here and it felt like safety again, like childhood again. You slept in my bed, my bed that I put together–it took three hours!–and furnished with a bedspread I bought with my hard-earned cash. I washed the bedding just for you, made my home up just for you so you could see I am an adult and I’m doing okay (I’m not doing okay). You were here and I felt like I had a grasp on this quicksand life, even as my weekend with you slipped through my fingers.

You’re gone now, and I miss you. It’s like how you want to find someone’s hair on your pillowcase after they’ve left–you want that small trinket of self to remind you someone slept here, someone shared your small life if even for a moment. You miss their smell on your sheets, that animal trace so easily erased in the washing machine. My mother! My glorious mother who loves me and supports me even when I feel so stupid sometimes for coming all the way out here alone.

Edith_Vanderbilt_with_daughterAll the boys I meet want to be alone. I say, but can’t we be alone together? We’re all alone anyway, regardless of how many people surround us. I want to be alone too, right? That’s why I pick them. I pick the wrong ones because it’s safer that way. I came here to be alone, didn’t I? You can’t chase a dream when there are people holding you back. I think there’s something broken inside me, but I don’t know how to fix it. Mother! I thought you could fix it. Tell me I’m doing okay; tell me it will be okay.

I’m sorry I strayed so far from home. I’m sorry I chased a dream that led me down an unreturnable path. How do I retrace these footsteps, walk backwards and take it all back? I want to come home, mother. Where is home? How do I learn to make a home for myself? Is it with a brand new bedspread and clean dishes and a newly swept floor? I’m trying to make this apartment a home, trying to make this life a home, but I can’t make it smell like home or sound like home or feel like home. I want the home from my childhood, the one that’s half memory and half remembered fantasy. Our home used to smell like Tide laundry detergent. I can’t get my home to smell that way.

256px-Porträtt_av_mor_med_liten_dotter_-_Nordiska_Museet_-_NMA.0052993_1Mother! There are things I want to give you that I can’t, daughters I want to be that I am not. How can one ever make up for, say thank you enough to the person who gave her life? You humble creator, you ask so little of me in return for the extraordinary gift of being. Thank you for being here, for gracing my home with your presence of home, your dryer sheets and new recipes, your forgiveness and understanding. Please come again; visit soon. I can’t promise you anything other than that I’ll try my best to be a warm host and offer up freshly washed sheets.


  1. Thank you for your thoughtful essay. As someone who still has a mother but has a strained relationship and ambivalent love/hate feelings toward my mother, you have given me great perspective on the value of a mom.

  2. Love this! My kids are in college now and I’m getting the opposite feeling – I miss them (even though I don’t miss the mess)… my son left a message on the foyer mirror – I’ve left it there to remind me of him – as in the hair found on the pillow in your story. 🙂
    Only one suggestion: your blog is hard to read for old people like me – the font is very thin and looks light on the white background. Otherwise: Good work – best wishes!

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