Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

In a few weeks, it will be eight years since you left us. Not by your own choice. I am certain you didn’t drift off peacefully but rather went kicking and screaming and fighting into the other realm…wherever and whatever that is. I bet you were pissed. To die. Knowing you, I am sure you were pissed.

So I have been thinking about you a lot lately. I’ve always thought of you but lately,  I have been thinking about you in a new way, a more peaceful way, reflective I suppose.

You know when you cook something and you can’t really taste it? You are too in it. The ingredients are too much a part of you and when you taste it, it’s always the same, you don’t notice the taste of it. You have to call someone into the room to taste it and tell you what’s missing?

Yeah, I am comparing grief to cooking. It’s a stretch, I know. That’s how my brain works. I blame you.

But losing you was too much for me to understand. I certainly felt the loss. Every single day. Some days I felt it so much, I was so in it…I couldn’t grasp what I was feeling. I couldn’t “taste” the loss…it was so much a part of me.

But lately, I have been grasping, deeply, the loss of you.

I have been needing.



Only you.

Only the thing which you possess.

Stay with me and I will try to illustrate exactly what I am trying to say.

There is a thing that a good mom provides.

Now, let’s be honest. You weren’t always a “great mom”. You made some mistakes. Some of your mistakes were gigantic. I am not mad at you. I am 44 years old. I get your journey, your imperfections, and I forgive you completely. I know you did your best. I know it with all of my heart.

But here is why I know, now, eight years later that you were truly a good mom.

Because I need a soft place. I need a place where I will always be welcome. Where I can go, and be comforted, loved, cared for. I need to go to a place where I can crawl up, rest my head, pour out my heart, let down my defenses and just be. I need that thing. That place. That comfort. That safeness. That acceptance.

I need that love.

That only a mother can provide.

(Maybe Dad’s provide that too but that hasn’t been my experience.)

I will be ok, Mom.

You made me strong. I will survive without it. I will. Absolutely.

But I miss it. I miss that “thing” that you provided…that I didn’t even know you were giving me.

I was too in it when you died. I couldn’t “taste” it. Back to the cooking analogy again.

But I taste it now. I feel it now.

That loss. That need that cannot be filled.

For my mom.

Mine. My place. My safe place.

Because giving that to your kids is what defines a good mom.

Not whether you volunteer at the PTA, or cook from scratch, or breastfeed, or never lose your temper, or remember to sign permission slips, or are always emotionally or physically available, or never ignore your kids when you should be paying attention, or all the other the other things we moms put pressure on ourselves to accomplish and label ourselves failures for not doing.

It’s really this. This thing. This impossible to describe thing even when using a bad cooking analogy.

This mom thing.

This safe place. This comfort. This acceptance. This soft place where you are welcomed and loved and supported.

Your place.

Your mom.


I miss that.

Eight years later.

That’s what I miss most.

Your will had a note to me. Apologizing. For your mistakes. It pissed me off at the time because I wasn’t holding grudges and it made me crazy that you actually thought you had to apologize. Still. After so many years.

So I wanted to write and say, thank you for being a good mom.

You were a very good mom.

Your daughter

Kiss my Ass Standardized Tests

I helped my daughter the other night writing an essay for her History class. She’s in the 11th grade, the oldest of three kids. It’s not my first time to help a kid write an essay. I know the drill.

Five Paragraphs
Intro, concluding with the thesis statement which clearly states what the rest of the essay will support.
Three supporting paragraphs. Supporting topic #1, #2, and #3.
Conclusion paragraph with the thesis statement again.

BORING. These essay’s are boring as hell.

But I help them anyway. To write it exactly as the teachers expect.

It’s this way for a specific reason:

Standardized Tests.

Someone has to score them and in order to standardized the scoring system the criteria is very precise.

Without meeting the five paragraph essay criteria, a low score is given.

That’s how it is.

And it’s stupid. It’s stupid, stupid, stupid and it makes me want to smack the standardized testing people right in the face.

Because it’s not writing. It’s following a formula.

And who writes in a formula?

No good writer, ever, in the history of the universe.

It doesn’t teach kids to think or to be creative or express their thoughts in an interesting way.

It just teaches them to write like a robot.

This essay, the history one, made me slightly more angry than usual.

Because the teacher had said, “You must have a counter argument in your thesis statement.”

Um, what? What the hell does that mean?

My sweet daughter, growing more impatient with me by the second responded,
“It’s like you say, Many people think this…blah, blah, blah…but actually it’s this and here is why.”

I responded, “why is that a requirement? You are being asked to compare and contrast two time periods. Why do you need a counter argument.”

Poor sweet frustrated daughter, “Because it’s a history essay. All history essays have to have a counter argument. She says if we don’t have one we won’t get a good score. We have to think of a counter argument.”

Oh…it’s a history essay and it’s required. Now I understand.

I don’t. I don’t understand. At all.

It’s not required that she understand the political, social and economic changes that occurred between the late 1700’s and early 1800’s in US History and the death of the federalist party.

It’s not required that she understand how to express herself in written form.

It’s only required that she follow the essay formula which, apparently, includes a counter argument. But only for History, not for English.

Because if she doesn’t, she won’t get a good score based on the formula of a properly written essay.

And she won’t be able to properly follow the formula when it’s time to write her SAT essays.

And that’s all that matters, right?

And to this I say,

Kiss my Ass Standardized tests. For ruining the art of writing for my children.

Kiss my ass.