COLUMN: Dear mama…lessons you’ve taught me along the way

One of my favorite stories to hear you tell is of when I was about 2 or 3 years old and it was my first time experiencing snow. You bought me this peach and white snow suit (that I LOVED) and we excitedly went outside to take a photo.

By LaTria Garnigan

You put me by the car and went a few yards across from me to get a good shot. Being that I was a little tyke, you of course kneeled down to get a good vantage point. And also being that I was a little tyke who was not quite knowledgeable of photographic angles, I mimicked you.

So instead of getting a photo of me at eye level in the snow, it’s a photo of me kneeling in the yard. Did you tell me “No, baby that’s not what you’re supposed to do?” No, you went with it. And what I gained was a story that has held up for three decades and never gets old.

But that’s not it. There are so many more adventures that we’ve shared since we became the best of friends 33 years ago. Like the time I — as a toddler — boldly waltzed up the front porch stairs of a neighbor and asked “Where’s your leg?” Reeling from embarrassment you began to scold me, but was stopped by the very woman I had questioned and was reminded that kids learn by asking. She then proceeded to tell me about how she lost her leg. And while I don’t remember too much of this interaction, I’m pretty sure you still got on to me when we returned home.

You’ve always been the “cool mom.” And honestly, my friends probably like you more than they like me (LOL). I can recall the many times my friends said phrases like “You don’t have a curfew!” or “Your mom really let you do that?” Yes, you did.

But what they didn’t know was the silent understanding that existed between us. No, you didn’t make me sit in the house all of the time. What was understood was that there are consequences for each action. Now did I test that system sometimes? Of course. That’s what teenagers do. But I can proudly say that I never let it cross the line of anything that would upset you.

Our crazy moments did not stop when I went off to college, however. I distinctly remember during summer school one year at the University of Tennessee you — all the way in Atlanta — had the Knoxville police show up to my dorm room at 4 a.m. all because I hadn’t returned your phone calls from earlier that day. After quite the embarrassing moment with my roommate and I wondering what was happening, they instructed me to call you and said they couldn’t leave until I did. We still laugh to this day at the moment. Needless to say I make sure to answer and return every phone call these days within a timely manner. I don’t want any repeats.

You were always my cheering squad growing up. Even now, you’re quick to boast about your “editor” daughter and rattle off a list of my accomplishments — many of which I didn’t think were much of a big deal, but let you tell it I’m two steps away from winning a Pulitzer. Your support has never gone unnoticed, even through the many embarrassing winces I made whenever you spoke of my career.

Thank you for your many sacrifices — those I was aware of, along with the silent ones. And even when you were sick, you still managed to check and see if I was OK even when the focus should be on yourself. We have a bond that can’t be duplicated and one that I’m proud to boast about to anyone who cares to listen. Thanks for coming along on all the Mother’s Day adventures that are more so activities I want to do, but that you bravely partake in.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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