While I am grateful for all that you did to raise me when I was small, what is on my mind today is all you've done since I became a mother and you became Nanny.
Thank you for having raw milk in your fridge for my kids to drink. Thank you for driving clear across town to the coop to have organic meat and vegetables for dinner when we visit. Thank you for letting my kids pull beets and carrots from your garden, even when they could use a week or two more to grow. Thank you for giving thoughtful gifts to my kids that fit our values – gifts like wooden farm animals and a snowsuit from Craigslist and a road trip to South Dakota and an afternoon at the ballet.
Thank you for understanding and accepting both of my children for who they are and how they tick. You have never forced either of them to be someone they are not, and from you they both feel a deep respect and understanding. And also so much love.
Thank you for co-sleeping with Sage when he stayed over when he was small. Thank you for helping us make adaptations for his sensory needs (remember when you put him down for a nap under the pillows and rotary phone? Brilliant/hilarious.) Thank you for using natural dish soap for bubbles in the bath instead of the fragranced bubble bath from the grocery store. Thank you for turning off the TV and playing games on the floor with them for so many years. Thank you for seeing their magic and allowing it to grow. Thank you for the museum memberships and visits every year. Thank you for convincing Sage that 1) a banana split was 1/2 of a banana, unsweetened yogurt, and 3 chocolate chips – and 2) it was really sassy and special.
But most of all thank you for seeing me as a mother – despite our differences – as worthy of your respect and for honoring the choices I have made that are different from your own. Thank you for understanding so fully that it's my turn to make parenting choices just as you did a generation ago. And thank you for knowing that simply because my mothering choices are different doesn't mean that I honor or treasure your mothering any less.
Thank you for honoring my choices and my wishes for the past decade. I'm not sure I can adequately express how important that has been for me. Truly. I type this with tears in my eyes. It is perhaps the most important gift you have given me.
We have our similarities as mothers and women. We both strove for natural birth. We both breastfed (both of us longer than most nursing mothers from our generation) and cloth diapered. We both understood the power of healthy food and fresh air and limited television. We both questioned the cultural norms of our time and forged our own paths. (I suspect I should thank you for that gift as well, the gift of questioning and trusting my instincts.)
But you and I also made many different choices in how we approached mothering. And isn't that how it is supposed to be? We shift and change through time. Just as you didn't mother like Grandma Lee, she didn't mother like her Great-Grandma Nellie. As mothers we change. We shift. We grow. We find what fits and embrace it.
But despite our mothering differences you have accepted and respected my mothering since it began. You are not afraid to ask questions about the choices I am making, but your questions ring of a desire for understanding – not a desire to bring me back to the path you chose a generation ago. I've never felt pressured by you to be a different mother than I am.
You once paid me a kind compliment saying you wished you had known me when you were a young mother. And I'm glad to know you now. You have honored my needs and wishes as a mother. You honored my choices. You have honored my mothering. You have showed me that my choices are valid and worthy, even if they run in a different direction than those around me. And I can't thank you enough for that.
I love you. So, so much.