I’m sure most of you have heard of the movie Freaky Friday where an angsty teenage Lindsey Lohan switches bodies with her “fun-sucking” mom played by the hilarious Jamie Lee Curtis.
Well, when I was a 13-year-old embodiment of Lohan’s character, I told my own mother I would never want to switch places with her, even for a day. She was everything I told myself I didn’t want to be: a businesswoman, an athlete, a Type A personality. I was a free-spirited musician who dreamed of becoming a teacher, and I was determined to make sure she knew I was going to be nothing like her when I grew up.
She enrolled me in softball when I was young, and I spent every practice praying I would be put in the outfield and trekking begrudgingly through the bases until I would inevitably be tapped out. I got in the car after games and complained about how much I hated the sport, and lamented about how much I detested her for putting me in it. When I was in seventh grade, I was invited to go with some friends to a movie, and my mom, despite my bitter pleas, ended up chaperoning the event. I ignored her the entire night, and didn’t even sit by her for the film.
I spent so much of my energy opposing who I thought she wanted me to be that I never noticed she was exactly the kind of woman I now aspire to become.
When I left for my freshman year of college, I wasn’t all that sentimental or nervous. I have always been incredibly independent, and I spent most of my high school career in various auditoriums and friend’s homes rather than with my family. I thought I would maybe call my parents once a week, and recoiled at the thought of visiting home any time before Thanksgiving. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel close to my mom, it was just that I didn’t feel like I needed her, or anybody, for that matter.
Of course, nothing ever goes as expected, and as my first semester progressed, I missed my mom’s encouraging words, the stability of life at home, and just having her around. Our calls became more and more frequent, and now I called because I wanted to talk to her, not because I felt like I needed to check in. I visited home a few weeks before Thanksgiving, and I felt the happiest I had felt in a long time to be in the comfort of my own home. My relationship with my mom was changing, and for the better.
She has never once made me feel like I can’t do anything I set my mind to. When I told her one of my dreams is to travel around Europe by myself, she asked me what countries I wanted to visit the most. When I told her I was going to switch paths from becoming a Special Education teacher to pursuing Creative Writing, she told me she always knew I’d be a writer. When I told her about my idea to start a Bed and Breakfast that employs people of varying abilities, we put together a business plan on a napkin during brunch.
She has instilled in me the idea that no dream is too big, and because of her I have the confidence and drive to truly believe that. Some people may see me as overly ambitious or unrealistic, but the truth of the matter is I can make these dreams happen because I have the heart and dedication to achieve them, and I have my mom to thank for that.
When my friends ask me why I get so excited to go home and spend time with my mom or why I call her at least three days a week, I feel lucky to have the relationship with her that I do. I don’t think of our time together as something I have to do to fill my role as a “good daughter” or to meet some sort of quota. I love hanging out with my mom the same way I relish my time with any other friend. I cherish our typical visits to the downtown bookstore where we catch up with the owner and enjoy our “friends and family” discount. I crave sharing a plate of Brussel sprouts and local beers at one of our favorite restaurants. I love laying out on the deck, sharing scarily similar laughter and reading our respective books.
Now all I see when I look at my mom is a successful leader in her trade who uses her gifts to inspire others. I see the first person who I want to call when something exciting happens, and the first person I run to when things don’t go quite as planned. I see a woman who has ceaselessly supported me through every milestone in my life, whether that be my first school musical or when I decided to change my major halfway through my junior year of college. Most of all, I see my best friend in the whole world who I am immensely proud to call my mother.