My Mom’s name is Gail Cooper. I can’t tell you how long she’s been ‘36’ years old because she’d probably hunt me down and kill me. Momma Coop (as she’s known to my friends and when I talk about her) is fucking awesome.
I’m a self-proclaimed and proud Momma’s girl. Since I was little, we’ve been extremely close. Literally and metaphorically. As a baby I found no reason to cry unless I couldn’t see her. Even throughout my adolescence when most tend to ignore their parents for their lack of coolness, we remained best friends watching a movie (usually the same four Pride and Prejudice, You’ve Got Mail, Sense and Sensibility, or Sleepless in Seattle over and over again) on a Saturday night. Our personalities were/are so similar our communication can be completed in a shorthand or reading of mood. My brother sometimes felt like he was left out of our little club.
Not to say it was sunshine and rainbows all the time in the Cooper household. Our similar tempers could rage against each other with me slamming my door until one of our stubborn sides broke and called peace. I tried testing envelopes when I could, but she’s one of those ‘mean moms’ that employs tough love like a boss. Our house was not a democracy, but a dictatorship.
One of the hardest things about this nomad lifestyle I’ve chosen and being in the Peace Corps is not being able to talk to her every day. When she would come home from work, we would catch up on the day, cheering my accomplishments and cursing those that gave me trouble. (She’s a real Momma Bear type, mess with her cubs and you’ll be ripped a new one. Nothing would ruffle her fur more than at my basketball games and someone gave me an unnecessary shove.) She was right there in my daily life, no matter what.
Part of this growing up thing is learning to live with out her here. To be frustrated/angry/sad/lonely/happy/homesick and learn to deal with it on my own. The freedom can be exhilarating, but sometimes it’s really hard. To borrow a line from You’ve Got Mail, ‘ and missing my mother so much I almost couldn’t breathe.’ The network of Thai women in my life are a good band-aid to help through the transition. They’ve been my family when I couldn’t reach mine, picking me up when I’ve been down whether I liked it or not. Just like my real mom.
I’ve never excelled with expressing my emotions and displaying affection. I usually return her ‘I love you’ with a Ghost ‘ditto’ and wiping the goodbye kiss off of my cheek. So Mom, this is my dedication to you. I hope it makes up for all those smart-ass remarks, eye rolls, slammed doors, betrayed your trust, didn’t take your advice, and made your life harder than it needed to be. Thank you for being a ‘mean mom.’ If I’m ever a mother, I hope I can be half the mom and the woman that you are because that would be pretty exceptional.
To all those kids out there like me, make sure you give your Mom an extra tight hug every day. There will come a time when you can’t and there won’t be anything you’ll want more.