I remember when I was a little girl and you would take us to the beach. The other moms would lather up in sunscreen and hide under the umbrellas. But not you. You were right there with us, building sandcastles, body surfing the waves, and laughing in the sunshine. You never worried about getting dirty or looking the fool. You just wanted to enjoy yourself.
I have always admired that about you. You’ve never cared what other people do. You just do what you want.
When I was just a toddler you decided to bicycle around Lake Tahoe. My dad had done it, so, why couldn’t you? Sure, you weren’t as experienced a cycler as he, but you were determined. You hopped on your bike and started peddling.
It was hard. Harder than you’d expected. By the end you were near tears, sweat dripped from every corner of your body, and your muscles quivered. But you didn’t care. You kept riding. And you did it.
Just like you climbed half dome for no other reason than to prove you could. Because that’s who you are. You are a woman who isn’t afraid to be herself. And you taught me that it’s okay to be myself too. Even if who I am is a little different than the rest.
Every time we go to a nail salon together you joke about the dirt caked under your fingernails. You were always a little embarrassed; most of the moms didn’t show up to the nail salon with dirt-covered hands. But in my eyes, that dirt is a symbol of who you are. A symbol of what makes you, not only different than the other moms, but so much cooler. (I know, I’m biased, but seriously… you’re the coolest).
I guess what I am trying to say is thank you.
Thank you, Mom, for being so fearlessly true to yourself. You taught me what a real woman looks like. I grew up watching you pull on heels and red lipstick on day, then swap them for snowshoes and a baseball cap the next. I grew up learning that beauty can be a little black dress and diamond earring, but it can just as easily be mud-caked jeans and paint-stained tee-shirts.
Watching you live your true nature gave me permission to live mine. Growing up with you as a role model taught me that there is no right or wrong way to be a woman. You taught me that as long as I am true to myself, I am beautiful. Because you are always true to yourself, and you are the most beautiful woman I know.
You often tell me that you admire my self-awareness. You say you are impressed by how well I know myself and how unapologetically authentic I am. I wonder; do you realize that you are the one who taught me how?
Like any daughter, I turned to my mother as a model of womanhood. I followed in your footsteps and, as the years passed, you went from being my mother to my role model to my hero. And today? Well, let’s just say if someone asked me what I want to be when I grow up, I’d show them a picture of you.
Thank you, Mom. Thank you for being yourself and for teaching me how to do the same.
A very proud daughter