The picture above is my mom and I. I don’t remember how old I was here, but it doesn’t look like I’m more than 8 or 9 months old. It’s odd to think that this picture was taken about 24 years ago. It’s also strange to think of all the things that have changed since then, and where I am in my life, who I’m with, what I’m doing. This picture was taken in Jacksonville, Florida. That’s where I was born, but I don’t remember much of Jacksonville. I remember living in an apartment complex, and I remember visiting the pool that was in the center of the complex on a daily basis. My mom used to love laying out in the sun (that is, until she was diagnosed with skin cancer many moons ago). I lived in Jacksonville until I started elementary school, and then we moved to Pittsburgh PA. That’s the part of my life that I remember the most. I remember countless hours of playing in our vast “backyard.” I put backyard in quotations because it was sort of the backyard for the entire apartment complex. My favorite was the forest that sprawled to the right of our complex. I loved exploring, and dreaming, and wandering. There was a small creek in the very back of the forest where I’d sometimes go by myself. It was such a serene part of my life–I didn’t worry much, and I was too young to worry, really.
Do you see that huge smile on my mom’s face? I love that smile. She always put my brother and I first–no matter what. When we first moved back to Florida, and shortly after my parents divorced, life was a little difficult. Here you have a single mom, two kids, and a job that didn’t pay that great. We had a house, and food on the table, and there was a lot of love. Plus, the divorce of my parents gave me an opportunity to learn how to be independent. Without a doubt, my mom is my very best friend. To this day, I can still count on her to be there for me, to listen to me, and above all, to love me unconditionally. She taught me that kindness and compassion can take a person much further than looks or skill alone. She taught me that anything and everything is possible. And, she taught me to be who I wanted to be regardless as to what anyone else thinks of me. Our childhood was an outstretched field of possibilities–the heavens were my limit.
My mom is also my idol. She is in her mid-50s and STILL works out harder than anyone I know. She’s ran her fair share of 5ks, half marathons and full marathons. She has a beautiful back-piece tattoo of floral, among others. She’s even experimented with piercings, hair color, you name it. Haha. That still makes me laugh, but she is, hands down, the coolest person in my world. Sometimes she doesn’t always believe in her abilities, but I’m always so proud of her when she breaks barriers and finds success even if she fails a couple times. She always says I’m her inspiration, but I beg to differ–she’s my inspiration.
Sometimes I wish I could go back to the days that were simpler and less heavy on my heart. No parent really likes to see their children grow up and move on with their lives. Such is the circle of life. But, I’m so thankful that I’m still so close to my mom even after all these years. I can’t wait to give my kids as much love as my mom has given my brother and I. Thanks for being awesome, Mom.