A Letter to a Phenomenal Woman

Letter

May 14, 2017

Dear Mom,

I don’t know how you do it. I don’t know how you get up every morning when everything hurts and you would rather do anything else than go into work. I don’t know how you smile after a long day. I don’t know how you make dinner when your feet hurt and all you want to do is sit down and relax. I just don’t know how you do it.

I don’t know how you are always right. I swear, you are always right. It’s absolutely terrifying, but also so wonderful, because I know that your advice and your words are true. You tell me straight up what you think and you let me know when I’m wrong (which is a lot). I remember thinking just recently that you were right months and months ago, but it took me how long to realize? It took me too long. I should listen to you more.

I don’t know how you handle me sometimes. When I can barely look in the mirror or get out or bed, you’re there. You always try to make me smile when I’d rather be frowning, and it usually works. I’m smiling just writing this. When I come home from a hard closing shift at work, you make me mac and cheese, even though it’s late and you probably don’t want to. I don’t know how you handle me when I’m so moody I could be four different people in the span of an hour. Seriously, I don’t know how you do it.

You’re always interested in my day, in every aspect of my life. You’re always there to listen to me complain about screaming children at work or listen to me talk too much about some k-pop group. You’re always trying your best, but I think you’re doing more than just your best. I think you’re exceeding everyone’s expectations. Know that you are, even when people say otherwise. What you’ve done throughout your life is really inspiring to me. To go from having almost nothing to getting a college degree and living in a nice neighborhood is inspiring. I don’t know what you lived through as a child, but I know that it was enough to shape you into the phenomenal woman you are today.

I know that this coming fall is going to be hard on both of us. Me going away to college and to add to that living in a dorm for the first time ever is going to be so hard. I know it is, even though I say it won’t be. I know I’m going to miss you every day and that I’m going to call you every night just to hear your voice. I’m probably going to eat my words, you know, the ones I said the other day when I told you you talk to much. (I’m already munching.) Things are going to be different, but I know that you won’t change.

I will never forget my sophomore year of high school when everything hit the fan. The nights you spent staying up with me while I cried and felt too many things. The days you spent home with me when I just couldn’t make myself go to school. You listened to me and you understood where I was hurting. I absolutely would not have be here if you hadn’t been there to help me through those times. You are so important to me.

Your love is so great and you are so caring. You are stronger than you think. I mean, when shit gets hard, you stand taller than anybody else. (You’re doing that right now, by the way.) You are smart, too, and I envy that. You think of things that I don’t and it challenges me to think deeper. I don’t tell you these things enough, but you are all of those things and so much more. And I love you so much.

Maya Angelou wrote a poem called “Phenomenal Woman“. I think it’s very fitting for you, and this last stanza is my favorite:

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.   
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.   
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,   
The bend of my hair,   
the palm of my hand,   
The need for my care.   
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Mom, you are the definition of a phenomenal woman. You make me proud, you are beautiful in every way, and you are phenomenal. You always will be. I love you, mom. Forever and ever and ever.

Love, Emily

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