My mom’s birthday was last week. She would have been 79 but she passed from this life three years ago. I still wish her a happy birthday on my Facebook page, even though she never knew anything about Facebook. But I can’t very well send a card and I need this physical reminder that it’s her day and I’m thinking of her.

Like many daughters, I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to avoid my mom’s guidance and influence. She and I had a…well, I guess you could say…we had a “difficult” relationship while I was growing up. My mom was a good mother. Especially when we were really little, she was good at spending time with us and taking us places and doing fun little things for us that were unexpected. But as I grew into my teenage rebellious years, we really had some battles!

I’m the oldest of three kids in my family and being somewhat stubborn and strong-willed (I know it’s hard to believe, but I am kinda like that.) Anyway, I definitely earned the “rebellious” label during my teens. Mom and Dad would set the rules and I would find a way to break them. Oh, I was a good kid, did all the expected things in school, got good grades, joined the clubs, earned awards and all that. But still I butted heads with the ‘rents, especially my mom. I wanted to get away from home and from her as fast as I could.

I did finally get away and there was college, the first years of working and being on my own, and then marriage and kids. Those early years, in which I thought of myself as completely independent of my parents’ influence, were a blast! I had some great times! But while I didn’t realize it at the time, I still made many of my decisions and choices based on what I thought Mom would say or think. Yeah, I thought I was doing it on my own, but looking back, I can see many times my choices were influenced subconsciously by my mom. And, while I wouldn’t admit it at the time, that guidance was helpful and reassuring. Especially when dealing with the challenges of raising my own children. It seemed like the older I got, the smarter my mom got!

With maturity comes wisdom and as I grew older still, I finally started to realize that what I had really wanted all along was Mom’s approval. I simply wanted her to be proud of me! Looking back to those teenage years, I had convinced myself that I neither wanted nor needed my mother’s approval. I convinced myself that I didn’t care what she thought. But deep down I really DID care. I wanted her approval and for her to be proud of me.

I’ve always been somewhat of an “over-achiever,” probably because of this subconscious desire to please my mom. And through the years, I’ve achieved and done a lot of things. And my mom was proud of me. She was proud of my accomplishments. I’ve lately come to realize that many of the things I’ve done in my life were done not just for my own personal achievement, but so that Mom could share in the success too. She could be proud that it was HER daughter doing the whatever.

A few years ago, I had a mid-life crisis…well, the first one anyway! I left my successful career and tried to decide what I wanted to be when I grow up. I kept thinking back to a dream I’d had when I was young and that was to work for an airline as a flight attendant. But now I was old and it was too late…but no, I decided I was still going to reach for that dream. So I did, and I was hired by a major US airline as a flight attendant! But when it came time to tell my mom, I was nervous. What would she think? Would she think I was abandoning my family? My son was still in high school at the time and I would be away from home three weeks out of each month. My husband was supportive, but what would Mom say?!

So we went to tell her, my husband and I. As soon as the words were out of my mouth, “Mom, I got a job as a flight attendant,” her eyes got real big and she kind of held her breath for a minute. And then she burst out, “Well! It’s about time! You always wanted to do that!” And she was happy for me. And she was proud.

I still do things and go places and have opportunities that I know she would enjoy and appreciate. I wish I could share these things with her. I catch myself reaching for the phone to call her and say, “Hey Mom, guess what I did?!” knowing she would share my excitement. I miss her still, but I know she left this earth being proud of me.

I’m proud of you too, Mom and I’m proud to be your daughter. Happy Birthday.

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