Words too small

by Dorothy Lie

Beads of sweat threaten to fall down my small forehead as Ms. Sakata, my first-grade teacher, asked me who my bus partner was going to be on our field trip to the beach.

I nervously scan the crowd, looking for a sympathetic classmate. As I quickly grew disinterested with making conversation with the other children, I made my decision:

“Mom is my partner,” I replied without hesitation, as I strode over to the small gathering of chaperones to hold her hand. Despite persistent efforts made by my teacher to dissuade me, I was determined to stay by my mother’s side for the duration of the trip.

It was a singular experience being alone with my mom, for eight hours it were as if I was an only child. She taught me how to make sand castles (the secret is adding just the right amount of water), and brought my favorite Jelly Belly fruit snacks.

With every challenge, my mom took the opportunity to reinforce her fundamental values that I admire. When making sand castles by the beach, my mom encouraged me not to just make one for myself, but to make three more on behalf of each of my siblings who were unable to participate in the class trip. When she revealed the hidden box of Jelly Belly fruit snacks from her beach bag, she urged me to pass them out not only the students I was familiar with but also to the other children playing by the shore. When she bought me a giant rainbow snow cone from a vendor by the parking lot, she insisted on paying for my classmates’ snow cones as well.

My admiration for my mom stems from much more than just one educational experience at the beach 12 years ago. Rather, it comes from countless similar instances demonstrated over time. It’s her incessant altruistic willingness to contribute her absolute best in whatever she does, from baking an elaborate color-themed dessert table for a dear friend’s baby shower to sewing homemade bedsheets in order to match the unique color scheme of my bedroom. Small acts, like cutting Dominique’s chicken tenders into tiny pieces for lunch because that’s the way she likes them reveal her detail-oriented nature.

I’ve come to respect that while it’s easy for me to get frustrated seeing others so readily take advantage of her generosity, she remains patient and forgiving (which are reactions that I still have trouble understanding).

During times of emotional distress, she stands firm as a rock, stroking my hair while softly chanting, “Que será, será , whatever will be, will be, the future’s not ours to see…

Wherever I go in the future, I will always hold dear the beliefs my mom diligently lives by, and when presented with ideas like the observational learning theory, I am encouraged to imitate the kindness my mom has devotedly demonstrated.

With another Mother’s Day approaching, I find that each year it gets increasingly more difficult to convey the amount of appreciation I have for my mother. As I get older, I’m only beginning to realize the sacrifices she has made in order to provide my sisters and me with the life she wanted as a child. The words “thank you” are too small to express my gratitude, but I suppose it’s a start. Thank you, Mom, and Happy (early) Mother’s Day.

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