“I thought you were your mother for a second.”
“You two are twins. It’s uncanny.”
It’s safe to say I look like my mom. From our similar smiles to our matching nose bumps with freckles scattered across, we can’t go many places together without someone asking if we’re sisters.
And it doesn’t help that I started bleaching my hair like hers a few years back, so we both have her signature icy platinum color.
One of the few truly obvious distinctions between us is our eye color; the magnificent brown irises are a gene I seemed to have missed. But when our closest friends and family members look past any dissimilarities and call me her clone, I feel lucky. And it’s not just because my mom is beautiful on the outside.
It’s because I hope the people who know us are comparing us on the inside, too. Because as much as I look forward to growing up and hopefully turning into someone as stunning as my mom, I look forward even more to having a soul like hers someday.
When my mom walks into a room, everyone wants to be her friend. She’s the most effortlessly popular person I know, and it’s because she radiates genuine character. She is honest, hilarious and real. Who wouldn’t want to be friends with that person? Imagine being raised by her. Life is good.
Not a day goes by that I don’t talk to my mom on the phone, and I know that’s a huge part of what keeps me at ease and in high spirits even during the busiest of semesters. I feel like nothing can go wrong because my mom is always rooting for me.
She often brings up my first day of first grade. While wearing a pink backpack that was so big on me it hit the backs of my knees, I walked up the driveway into my new school without turning back to say goodbye.
Mom said all of the kids around me were crying, but I was so excited and easygoing. She acts like she doesn’t know where I got that attitude.
I’ll tell you where I got it. I was raised by an independent, brilliant woman who makes literally everything seem easy.
Through all of the ups and downs of my brother’s battle with cystic fibrosis, I’ve seen her handle everything with grace and positivity. A liver transplant? “We got this.” Cancer? “Let’s beat it.” Emergency surgery? “I’ll get my overnight bag ready.”
That’s her attitude toward everything in life. And it’s not because she doesn’t worry or get scared; it’s because she keeps it all together for her kids and the rest of our family.
Of course, she drops everything when my brother is sick; she doesn’t leave his bedside, even when it means being away from her full-time job. But she also drops everything for me when I have even the slightest crisis.
One time, when I just absolutely couldn’t style my new shorter haircut, she drove all the way to Main Campus with hair products to help me fix it. She didn’t want me to start that semester without feeling my absolute best.
She even drove to my dorm once freshman year with a coffee and a pumpkin muffin just because I seemed sad on the phone. She’ll do anything for the people she loves. It’s part of what makes her the kindest, most caring person I know.
And that goes beyond family. As a nurse, she has more compassion in her little finger for the people she treats than most people do in their entire beings. As a friend, she takes care of whoever needs her, whether it be with a borrowed outfit, a ride somewhere or something more. She’s got everyone’s back.
Above all, my mom repeatedly teaches me to be myself regardless of what anyone thinks. But I’ll admit; there’s one person whose opinion matters a lot to me.
Today, on her birthday, I hope this essay makes my mom feel as loved and important as she makes me feel every day. My personal stylist, cheerleader, diary, best friend and the most hardworking person I know, she’s needed way more than she realizes.
And mom, as I get older and look more and more like you each day, I hope I also look like you on the inside: fiercely free-spirited and thoughtful.