(ETA: KGrace26 just suggested sharing awesome thankful-for-mom stories here. Share away!) My mom was recently at a reading and got some books signed by a pretty famous poet. At the family wedding this weekend, she gave them to me. He had signed them, and in one he wrote a note that says "Good luck with your poetry." I blushed immediately upon finding it, because I know that what happened is my mom started bending his ear and the embarrassed teenager still inside me thought "Oh my god, moooooom!" But it kind of reminds me of how supportive she's always been, and in that sense it's lovely and very delightful.
My mom was the one who read me Richard Wilbur and Elizabeth Bishop and Wislawa Szymborska and Seamus Heaney when I was a kid. When I started trying to write poetry as a teenager, she encouraged me while pushing me to be better. She's always told me when things were crap, or self-indulgent word-floods, helping me understand what worked and giving me both thick skin and a sense of pride in my writing. She's learned not to bug me for new poems, that I send her new work in my own time. She likes when I argue with her about poets that I like and she doesn't, and vice versa. We both cried when Seamus Heaney died and we emailed each other our favorites of his poems for days after.
More recently, I have realized that my mile-marker for achieving a measure of success as a writer (besides book publication, the obvious) will be: when my mom stops buying a subscription to every journal or lit mag that takes one of my pieces. She usually does this the same day I mention I have a new thing coming out. She tells me which author photos are most flattering. She worries, sweetly, about poems in which a mother-figure seems to be doing something questionable. But she's never told me I shouldn't or couldn't say something, just told me how well she thought I'd said it, or how I could say it better.
She has never flagged in her belief that I can make it. But more importantly, she taught me that when it comes to writing — and, largely, everything else too — that you work for the sake of working, that the work is good. More than anything else, I am grateful to her for instilling in me the understanding that writing is labor — and that isn't something to lament or overlook, but something to celebrate. The work is good.
So today, this week, I'm thinking about how thankful I am for my mom, and all other badass, supportive, and thoughtful relatives and loved ones out there.
(Please, no mainpaging — not that I think it would be.)