mom and adult daughter

I’m not sure when it happened. Was it when I graduated high school and began working full time? Or was it at 19, when I moved eight hours away from home to college in a big city by myself? Or at 21, when I brought my then boyfriend (now husband) home to meet my family? Or was it the birth of our first child at 23? Or maybe our wedding a year later?

Maybe it was such a gradual change, that I just never noticed. And neither did she.

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My heart was pounding. My palms were sweaty. With large, blue, terrified eyes, I looked up at my mom. Then I looked down at the little black-and-white teddy bear in my sweaty little hand. I knew what I had to do. We had to turn around and go back to the bank, so I could put the bear back with the other toys. It wasn’t mine. It was the right thing to do. I had completely forgotten it was in my hand when Mom said it was time to leave.

We laugh about my insistence on going back now, but at the time, I was absolutely convinced I was going to jail. I was ashamed and embarrassed. But Mom didn’t laugh. She didn’t minimize my feelings. She just listened. And walked me back to the bank, so I could put the bear away. And then wrapped me in her arms with a big hug and told me she was proud of me.

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Dad was working the afternoon shift again this week. Friday night, as soon as we heard that door close, we ran. We ran to grab all the blankets, pillows and cushions we could find. Sometimes, feeling a little adventurous, we’d try and drag one of the mattresses out of the bedroom, giggling the entire time about how difficult it was, how much of a bad idea it was, and how we were never going to try that again (until the next Friday Dad was working late). Then out would come the chips, a can of coke each, maybe some gummy bears, and always the chocolate. Super Mario 3 would be ready to go in the Nintendo. We never played more than a few rounds, to be honest. But that was our secret.

These were our nights. The nights where it was just the two of us, and nothing else mattered. These were the nights where she made it clear that I was a person with my own opinions, and that those opinions mattered. These were the nights that she made me believe I could do anything. I wanted to attend a theatre school and pursue acting? Fantastic! You can do anything you put your heart and soul into. I wanted to write a novel? Excellent! Sit down and let the story come to you.

These were the nights where I filled Mom in on the happenings at school. And she would counter each of my stories with one of her own. She would offer me advice, laugh at the silliness, feel the anger and understand the frustration of being a teenager. These were the nights I began to see my mom as a person, outside of just my mother. It was just the two of us, in our own little world, filled with chocolate and love.

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My first week of college was hard. I grew up in a town of barely 15,000 people. College, however, was in a city of 890,000. And I didn’t know any of them. To be completely honest, even in high school, I was that person who would fake being sick in the middle of the night at a sleep over, just so I could go home and sleep in my own bed. To say I was homesick was an understatement.

I was homesick before my parents even left the city. We went to Best Buy to purchase a laptop for school. I can’t even remember the particulars. I just remember standing outside the store, off to the left side of the front entrance, ugly Oprah crying. Full-on sobbing. Nearly hyper-ventilating.

Mom didn’t say much, but she didn’t have to. We made a deal. One month. Thirty days. If I still couldn’t handle it, I could transfer to another school, forty-five minutes from home.

So every day I called her. Every day I called with a little tidbit about my classes, or my roommate, or college life in general. And every day, it got a little bit easier. By the time thirty days was up, I had settled in and gotten used to the idea. I was making friends. I was enjoying learning how to use the transit system (remember, small town — I had never been on a city bus before this!).

Nearly ten years later, we still have nightly conversations. Sometimes they’re only a few minutes long, and other nights, we can be on the phone for hours, seemingly never to run out of something to talk about.

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When I became a mom, I began to see my mom in a different light. Everything she did was for me. Every decision she made was not made lightly. It was made in the best interest of her only child – me. I now understood.

Cliche, I know, but when you become a parent, your entire world shifts, ever so slightly. You are not the center of your own universe anymore. This tiny, little, adorable human being that you created, is. This itty-bitty, mini, crying dictator is in charge. For the first bit, your life is not your own anymore.

Every decision I made from June 2, 2011 and on, was for my child[ren]. It gave me a better understanding into my mom as a person. I never knew how hard it was for her to make some of the choices that she did.

I wouldn’t change a thing, and I know she wouldn’t either.

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Through every life change I have gone through, my mom has been there beside me. From my first steps to my first day of school. From my first crush to my first kiss. From my first broken heart to my wedding day. From the days of the diapers to the days of motherhood. She’s seen it all. She’s done it all. She’s been a part of it all.

I’m a mom; but I’m also a wife, a friend, a woman, a person. I am an outspoken introvert that prefers a quiet night in rather than a party. I am a highly-anxious worrier that loves baths so hot it may just one day melt my skin. I am quick tempered, but just as quick to forgive and apologize.

Years from now, I will be making my own transition from motherhood into friendship with my own children. I may never be able to pin point the exact instant that it happens, but I believe that it will.

Maybe it will be such a gradual change that I won’t even notice. Maybe they won’t either.

Originally published on The Domesticated Blonde

 

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Angela Balasevicius is a full-time mom. With a two-year-old little girl who has the world wrapped around her finger, and a five- year-old who’s the next Houdini, she still manages to find the time to write The Domesticated Blonde. The only thing missing from her life is an IV drip of coffee. You can find her on Facebook, and follow daily updates of the shenanigans on Twitter @DomesticBlonde1. Angela currently resides in Alberta, Canada.

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