How I Learned To Appreciate My Mom After 19 Rocky Years Together

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You hear it over and over, mostly from mothers speaking to their anxious daughters who have just had their own children. A mother and daughter’s bond is the most precious thing.

I have friends who tell their moms everything and eagerly listen to and heed their advice.

I feel awkward when people look at me in awe when I tell them I didn’t have to lie to my mom about going out to a bar because she trusts I can decide for myself where to go and what to do.

Growing up, my friends would always hang around at my place, wherever that happened to be at the time since we moved around so much.

My mother was rarely home, and even when she was, she didn’t flinch if we sipped cocktails and gossiped in the living room.

We spent a good part of 18 years fighting and condemning each other. When we weren’t doing that, we were ignoring each other for the sake of peace and quiet.

I always thought our tension grew from the fact we were so different and could never see eye-to-eye.

But, as I’ve grown up, appreciated the sacrifices my mother has made for me and had to make some of my own, I finally realize the reason we don’t get along is because we’re so similar.

Let’s face it: If you had to be friends with yourself, you would probably suffer.

Since moving away to college and having to make an intended effort to keep in touch with my mom, I’ve learned to appreciate the absence of a bond was what actually defined our bond.

I may not have felt comfortable telling her about every breakup I went through or asking for her advice on what to wear, but I was comfortable knowing I had to fend for myself.

At the age of 19, I am self-sufficient and independent. Moving to college on my own was not a big adjustment for me, as it had been for so many of my peers.

During the summer, I didn’t wait for my mother to make dinner, but instead, went grocery shopping and cooked for the two of us myself.

I’ve worked since I was 16 and haven’t relied on my parents to pay for luxuries, like restaurant dinners or new season clothing since then.

As I now have to worry about saving money and paying for Christmas gifts myself, I’ve come to appreciate and understand the opportunities my mother afforded me by having to give up so much herself.

As a single mom who always had to struggle to make ends meet, my mother didn’t want the same life for me. She wanted me to be able to compete for opportunities on the same level rich prep school kids were.

She took out loans to send me to private school, where I worked to get into my dream university. Today, despite all odds, I’ve made it there, and while I’m studying as hard as everyone else is, I’m also managing three jobs on the side.

I thank the universe, in the form of my mother, every day for the things she gave me and helped me to accomplish.

Instead of worldly advice and motherly affection, my mother gave me something as important and even more tangible: She gave me opportunity, support and the knowledge that I am not defined by my place in society, but can move up in it.

We’ve never been huggers, and we still aren’t. Sometimes we sit at dinner together and have nothing left to talk about after the usual formalities.

When I walked in the door sobbing one day after a breakup, she asked me what happened, and I told her I got dumped. She said sorry and continued reading her book. It’s not that she doesn’t care; it’s that after such a tense relationship, it’s hard for us to know what to say and when.

My mom and I now speak on the phone once a week and text each other daily. I still call her "mother," not "mom" or "mommy," but she expresses her interest in the new boys I’m meeting and the clubs I go to on the weekends.

She gives my roommate a hug when she comes to visit, and reminds me to call my grandma. Over the summer, we spent many nights at home together, eating cake and watching rom-coms.

While we can’t take back the first 18 years and the endless fights we had, we can make sure we move to the future and work to make our relationship a stronger one.

I’ve learned my friends’ relationships with their moms are not always perfect, either. Some of my girlfriends have monthly brunches with their moms at which they barely utter a word.

They receive care packages from their mothers containing expensive clothes and candy, but with no note saying, "I love you."

Bonds and relationships exist on many levels; the most important thing is to make each one your own.

So, while my mother sends me emoji that make no contextual sense and I hang a recent picture of us on my wall, I’m content knowing we’re forming our own special bond -- confusing and even strange to onlookers -- but all the more unique and special to us because of the rocky road we went down to get here.