Growing up as the youngest of three daughters, my mother was always extra concerned with my safety and well-being. As a typical teenager, I was annoyed by this and would often roll my eyes at her rules and advice and claim she “didn’t understand me.” What I later realized was, like most other teens, I just didn’t understand myself.
I grew up in an upper middle class New Jersey suburb, surrounded by plenty of drugs and alcohol. If I wanted, I could access pretty much any recreational substance, but in the back of my mind there was the looming reminder of my mother’s expectations. My mother always assumed I would make smart decisions; however, there were many times when I certainly did not want to. I found myself resenting her concerns and limitations and thought they stood as a barrier placed directly in-between me and a good time.
So, for the greater part of my adolescence I didn’t truly appreciate how wonderful it was to have a mom that cared.
It was late March 2011, when my mother was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. I was the first person she told. I was 24. My mother’s illness took a large toll on my father, two older sisters, and me. We had to take over the reins of the house and become strong caretakers.
Never in all of my life had I seen my mother more vulnerable or ailing. There was a low point in my mother’s illness, a time when it was unclear if her cancer has spread and worsened. It was during this time that it became so inherently clear to me how petty all of my youthful problems and disappointments had really been.
After two major surgeries and several rounds of chemo and radiation, I’m overjoyed to report that my mom is now cancer-free and back on her feet. This Mother’s Day is an especially poignant time for me as I celebrate the life and strength of my mom.
Last year’s misfortune has left me with an entirely new perspective: There are much worse things in life than a mother being“wet towel” to her daughter’s plans. In fact, I appreciate it now more than ever.