A Mother's Smile

My entire life I have only wished for one thing. I have always known that what I want most in life is a daughter. My mother always took good care of me and she made being a mom seem so important. She made being a mom seem like such a brave endeavor. She wore a smile that showed nothing but confidence in her decisions. Six months ago, when my she passed away from diabetes, I realized something. I realized that I needed someone to hold and to love. I needed someone to teach things to and to watch grow. I needed a daughter.
Mother and I were not always close. We went through phases like I’m sure many other mothers and daughters do. When I was a toddler, I loved my mommy. I needed my mommy. When I was a preteen, I hated my mom. I couldn’t wait to get out of the house. And now as a young adult, I think my mother was the most amazing woman in the entire world. She gave everything up for me. She moved to an entirely different country for me. She gave up her high paying job and college education for me. She had to settle for working a minimum wage cashier job , for me. These things still mean the world to me but unfortunately I never even got to tell her that.
Last year, I went away for the entire summer to see my cousins in Mexico. While I was there, my mother and I would talk everyday for an hour. This came as a surprise to me because before the trip I had gotten into a huge argument with her about something silly, so silly I don’t even remember what the argument was about. Even so, I was being spiteful and gave her the silent treatment until I left for vacation. I remember thinking on the plane about how I wished my mother was coming with me. Even though we fought, I knew that she deserved to go see her family more than I did but because she was generous, she wanted me to go and have fun. That thought stayed with me throughout the trip and made our phone conversations almost magical. For the first time in my life, my mother and I were talking to each other. We were not screaming or yelling, we were talking.
I remember telling her that she needed to make a list of goals for herself. I told her that she needed a six-month plan, a one year plan and a five year plan. She didn’t really understand so I explained my list to her and she said “Ay, hija, this is too hard. I do not need plans, I am already too busy.”
“But you don’t even have a job,” I replied.
“ Yes I do. I have a job.” she said almost angrily.
“Oh really? Where do you work?”
She responded by simply saying that she works at home. We spoke for another five minutes and I went on to think about what she had just said. Then it hit me. My mom works at home. She cooks, she cleans, she takes care of her family. That is her job and the worst part is she does not get paid for it. She never gets a break either. That whole summer I thought about ways to help my mom so that she could have time to do things for herself. Unfortunately when I got back, she was too sick for me to go through with any of my plans for her.
Mother always told me about what her life was like before she got married. She told me that every since she started making money for herself, she would give half of it to her mother to help the family out. She would take her mother on vacation twice a year and take her shopping every two weeks. And when she wasn’t working or in school or with her mom, she was taking aerobics classes. She loved aerobics. She loved exercising. She told me that she loved the
adrenaline rush, and of course loved the physical benefits of working out.
I found a bunch of old pictures of her when she was in her early twenties and she was a knockout. Everyone tells me I look like her. They tell me I have her smile and her passion for life. I never noticed how similar we were until recently and now it’s too late to appreciate any of that.
If there was one thing that I knew we had in common is that we were both not the best at cooking. My mom did it only because she had to or else the family would starve but I never really had the time to do it, or at least that was my excuse. There was this one time she tried to teach me. In high school we always had these bake sales to raise money for our music department. Every year I would bring oatmeal chocolate chip cookies because my mom made the best. Ordinarily, I would tell her days in advance so that she could make them but this time she told me we were going to make them together.
“I don’t want to do this,” I exclaimed.
“Well you’re going to have to learn sometime, and who better to teach you than your mom,” she said.
Being the bratty teenager that I was, I just walked away and started calling my friends to see what they were doing so I could get out of the house. I left my mom to make the cookies and she did. She didn’t even put up a fight. I guess she didn’t see a point in arguing with me anymore because I was just going to leave anyway.
She always knew what to say when I was upset or angry. When I would get a bad grade or have a falling out with a friend, she would always tell me that I could do better and that I should never doubt myself. As I got older I started to see more and more that my mom was like a living encyclopedia. She knew everything about everything but because I didn’t always want to listen, I never bothered to ask even if I knew she would know the answer.
I get sad when I think about all of the things we never got to do. It would have been nice to take my mom to Europe. She was always talking about how glamorous she thought it was. It would have been fun to take a dance class with her. I’m sure she would have liked my zumba class, it’s all about the adrenaline rush. There were also a lot of things we never got to talk about. We never got to talk about boys or if she wanted grandchildren. I’m not even sure if I knew her favorite color. What hurts me the most is that looking back on my life I don’t think I ever really thanked her for anything. I just took and took and took from her and didn’t give anything back.
A week ago I found out that I’m pregnant. For the past six months all I have been thinking about is how I need a daughter. Now that I actually have the chance, I realize that I am not ready. I’m not ready to give up everything like my mom did. I am not brave like she was. The smile that I wear is fake, I can’t measure up to how confident she was. Even so, last night I had a dream that made me feel more confident in myself. I think it could have been my mom telling me that I can do this, I can have this baby because it’s been the only thing I have ever really wanted.
In my dream, there was a mother and a daughter. They were best friends. They did everything together. They went shopping, they went to see plays, and every Wednesday evening,no matter how busy each one of them was, they would make time to go to zumba class together. The dream seems almost too good to be true, I thought to myself when I woke up this morning. But this dream doesn’t just have to be a dream for me. I now realize that I was not the perfect daughter, but this could be my chance to be the perfect mother. My mom always told me to never doubt myself because I could do better and even though I know I won’t be a better mother than she was, I owe it to her to try. The day this baby is born will be the happiest day of my life. Not only will I be smiling, but I know my mom will be smiling up in heaven too.


Publication Date: 04-01-2012

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