A Birthday Apology to My Mom, 25 Years Later


When I was 10, I spelled out “I hate you” on my bedroom floor using matchbox cars, crayons, and action figures. My mom told me I couldn’t go to my friend David’s house to play, so I struck back the only way I thought I knew how: to make her feel the pain I was feeling. I didn’t mean it, but somehow my 10-year-old brain thought this message would intercept her decision and I’d be off swimming in David’s pool in no time. 

I called out, “Mom, come to my room.”

I prepared myself for yelling, a spanking, and of course a grounding. But that’s not what happened. The look on my mom’s face was a mix of anger and sadness, and, perhaps, a bit of desperation. She didn’t yell. She didn’t raise her hand toward my behind. She didn’t serve out any type of sentence. She said, in a slightly defeated tone, “That’s how you feel?” And she turned around and walked away.

I’ve never forgotten that day. I’ve never forgiven myself for the way I made my mom feel. It was the first time I ever broke someone else’s heart, and it was my mom’s.

Today is my mom’s birthday. I opened this fresh document, planned on saying something witty or over celebratory, but this is what came to mind. It’s funny what we remember when we’re trying to find something positive to put out there to celebrate. But, possibly, this crossed my mind because it taught me a great lesson at such a young age: Don’t say something you don’t mean to hurt someone else for your own personal gain – no one wins in the end. I thought I had won when I made that eclectic creation on the floor, but 25 years later I still feel the guilt.

I’ve never said it, but, mom, I’m sorry.

Thank you for the lessons you’ve taught me in life. I have many stories, positive and negative, I could share here that we’ve both learned from over time, but I’ll end with this:

You are my one and only mom, and I’m so happy we were put into each other’s lives to experience ups and downs and moments of triumph over the past 35 years.

Happy Birthday. I love you.

My mom fixing Teddy Ruxpin, 1986; With my mom on Mother's Day, 2013.

My mom fixing Teddy Ruxpin, 1986;
With my mom on Mother’s Day, 2013.


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