An experience recently made me question my relationship with my mother. Like many growing up, I used to think things between the two of us were, well, complicated. There were preteen hormone induced arguments. College years were abundantly stocked with eye-rolls and exasperated sighs. I even remember a toddler tantrum over a Mickey Mouse towel she could not find. Honestly, my mom has taken an emotional beating from me over the years. And I don’t treat anyone the way I treat my mom.

After all the horrible things that have rolled so effortlessly from my tongue, how does she still adore me? Why does she still long to spend time with me when I spent most of high school avoiding her? As a mature adult, why do I still fall back into these same patterns of an immature child when it comes to my mother?

Baby Rowan had surgery a few months ago. An overnight stay was required, and he was in a lot of pain. My mom sat with him while I took a break. As soon as I returned and he saw my face, he burst into the most pitiful tears. My mom said, “I promise he’s been fine the entire time you were gone!”

I picked my sweet baby up from the hospital crib, and his raspy screams became gentle sniffles until he was calm. From my mother’s own lips came the answer to my questions, “You’re his safe space. He was strong until he saw you.”

Nanny’s (aka my mom) first time holding Rowan.

It’s not easy being someone’s safe space. It’s being strong, when on the inside you’re hurting, too. It’s ignoring hateful words knowing they don’t mean it. It’s forgiving even without an apology, and truly forgetting. It’s being a punching bag because you know it’s what they need in the moment.

During Rowan’s NICU stay, my mom would call me every day to get an update. I remember actually feeling annoyed to see her name lighting up my caller ID, and I wasn’t very nice. One day she finally asked me why I was being so rude. I snapped, “If you want to talk to someone who’s happy, call someone who doesn’t have a baby in the hospital!” You see, each day when she would call would be my time to express my sadness, my anger, and my fear. I took it all out on my mama who was just doing her best to support me. I didn’t understand it then, but my mom knew that behind all the hurtful words and attitude was a daughter expressing her frustrations with life.

My mom is my safe space. All the walls I’ve been fighting to hold up crumble in her presence revealing raw emotion. I know I don’t have to be strong anymore because she is there to help carry the burden, and I unload my heart in the worst ways on the best person.

One of my most valued relationships in this life is between my mother and me. I can rest in knowing that there’s not a thing I can do to change her love for me. Her self-sacrificing love is a beautiful thing, but let us all be a little more gentle with our mamas.

Thank you, Mom, for being my safe space.