Happy Mother’s Day mom, I love you. The ocean is calm today, the waves it breathes out to the shore are soft and welcoming. I know you would love it here, playing in the warm waters of the Caribbean. I’m so grateful for you mom. I wish I knew how you thank someone for giving you life? For more than that, for a really great life? For being the hand on your shoulder to steady you, push you, hold you, give you a squeeze when you’re feeling down? I can’t even fathom how you did it. I know I can always come to you, for advice, reassurance, strength and, of course, talking some sense into me. You’ve helped me with holes in my jeans, science projects, matters of the heart and so much more. So this Mother’s Day I’ll do the same thing I’ve done so many times without ever being disappointed. I’ll come to you. Will you write about us, mom?
In honor of Mother’s Day: A Letter From my Mother:
I’m in the grocery store a few months ago and a friend approaches me that I haven’t seen for some time. She asks how Matt and Bryci are doing. I tell her they are doing very well; they just celebrated their 3rd wedding anniversary, and will be leaving on their trip around the world in April. Her eyebrows rise, oh sure, sure, lots can change between now and then you know, I’m sure they will be starting a family soon. I walk away mentally counting the doubters I have heard from in the past 6 months. A dream? A crazy whim? No one gives up their life to travel the world for 18 months or more, it simply won’t happen. That is when I realize they don’t know my daughter like I do, she is not your average dreamer. She makes a plan and stands behind it.
My mind fades back to me sitting in a rocking recliner with a baby on my chest. I’m surrounded by books bearing titles “Parenting a Strong Willed Child” and “The Joys and Challenges of raising a Gifted Child”. I look over to see her sitting crossed legged on the floor, meticulously organizing and practicing the cards and booklets from her Hooked On Phonics deluxe set. She is barely 4 and reading at a 2nd grade level. Her Fisher Price tape recorder drones on, saying the letter, and giving the sounds and examples of its use. She is truly delighted! She wanted to learn to read and she did, which began a lifetime of dreams and accomplishments.
I recall the day I was driving her to pre-school at the tender age of 4, we were running late and I was driving a little faster than I should have been. I heard the siren behind me and sure enough, I was being pulled over. “OH NO!” I exclaimed. What’s the matter Bryci calmly asked from her car seat in the back, I’m getting pulled over by a cop! That’s ok! She brightly states, we are studying community servants and I learned that Police officers are our friends, they are here to help us! When the HP approached the vehicle, Bryci explained the whole situation while the officer listened attentively. He then looked at me and said, slow down, you have a real special kid back there. I did not receive a ticket and I was thoroughly impressed with her ability to converse with adults at such a young age!
It was a cold winter day when the doorbell rang and I trundled over to the door, a baby in my arms and a toddler by my side. Bryci had just gotten home from school, a 4th grader in the Trail Blazer program for gifted children. I peer out the peep hole to see two men dressed in black suits. A black suburban was parked outside. I slowly opened the door and ask can I help you? Is this the Webber residence one of the men asked? Um, yes, what do you need? They flash impressive ID cards showing they are members of the FBI. I reluctantly open the door and allow them in my home. Is there a Bryci Webber here? Why yes, she is my daughter, she is in her room. I call her name and she walks in the room carrying a huge dictionary in her hands. Bryci, this is agent Wilson and agent Lucas. They need to speak with you. She lays the dictionary on the table and carefully replaces her bookmark. She has been reading the dictionary for the last couple of days, she has made it to F.
The agents exchange confused looks. How old are you Bryci? 10 she replies innocently. Did you write a letter to the President Ms. Webber? Yes I did. Did anyone help you? No, she replies, I did it myself. Mrs. Webber, were you aware that your daughter sent this letter to the president? Agent Lucas produces a letter, the envelope is clearly written in Bryci’s hand writing and a Fruit of the Loom underwear tag was pasted on it in place of a postage stamp. ( I found it humorous that the postal service didn’t catch that detail). I read the letter. Bryci sat in the chair watching all of this. Where did you get this address I asked? In that book you bought me. I recalled the book, Puzzles, Games and Activities for Gifted Children. I’m not happy with some of the things President Clinton has been doing, so I decided I would give him a stern talking to. I read the letter, she was clearly better informed of the recent political issues than I was. There were no threats in the letter, just a well written letter of dissatisfaction for the President’s recent behavior and how shameful it was to the White House. I looked at the agents, and asked what will happen next. Agent Wilson opened his briefcase and pulled out a letter to Bryci from the President himself. He explained that she had represented herself as a 4th grade student, but the letter appeared to have come from a well-informed adult. They were called to check out the sender and if it was indeed written by a young student, they were to hand deliver the letter to her from President Clinton. They made some notes and shook Bryci’s hand and walked out with smiles on their face. Bryci stuck the letter in her dictionary and resumed reading ; FANDANGLE! She exclaimed, “pretentious tomfoolery!” I heard her say as she walked away.
I remember walking into her bedroom one day and all of the clothes that she had with Disney Characters were piled up in a basket. Are these dirty? I asked. No, but you can get rid of them. But Bryci, your Pongo sweatshirt is brand new! I won’t be wearing Disney brands any longer mom. Playing along, I said, why not Bryci. She explained that after watching every Disney cartoon we owned that they made girls seem weak and needy. She had a notebook with notes from each movie. The Alice in Wonderland notes were extra-long. I won’t be supporting the Disney franchise anymore until they make a story where a woman is strong and able to stand on her own. I picked up the basket and walked out, clearly blown away. She never wore another shirt again bearing a Disney character. That girl stuck to her guns.
As years went by, there were letters to the editor regarding the coaching of elementary students, and how it should be less competitive at this level so everyone can play and learn. A well-organized sit in at school because boys should be allowed to play volleyball and girls flag football. A campaign to get cat parks established because it was unfair that only dogs had dog parks to go to for socialization. The year she refused to wear any brand names because she wasn’t going to pad some CEO’s wallet for a tiny label exclaiming she was somehow better than others because of this label. When other kids were watching movies and playing truth or dare, she was writing letters trying to improve the world she lived in.
One Saturday morning, I awoke a bit late to the sounds and smells of cooking in my kitchen. I got up, and went to the kitchen. The family room was beautifully decorated with crepe paper, balloons and sparkling objects hanging from the ceiling. Bryci was putting in her second pan of cupcakes. What’s going on Bryci, did I miss something? No mom, I’m having a sleepover tonight with a few of my friends. (She was 12) I sent out the invitations last week, 8 people are coming. I’m working on the food now, look at my notebook, those are the games we will be playing. I’m going to do a makeover party, so I will need you to take before and after shots of all the guests. I’m dumbfounded, and slightly embarrassed that she had done all this work and I had no knowledge of it. You know, you really need to get permission from your father and I before you do something like this. Why? I did everything myself, I just need at least one of you here for supervision and some photos. There is nothing for you to worry about. And so the party was held, quite successfully if I may say so myself!
Fast forward to high school. Parent teacher conferences were upon us and Chaney and I went off to school to meet her teachers. We waited in line and when we finally got to the table, the teachers would flatly say, take a seat, students last name, and first name in that order. We sat, Webber, I said. Bryci. The teacher’s posture would change. They would remove their reading glasses and look at Chaney and I in adoration. You are Bryci’s parents? Yes, that’s right, we said shifting in our chairs. This is such an honor! I was hoping you would come, I wanted so badly to meet the parents who raised this amazing child. Our hearts would swell with pride. They would say things like she marches to the beat of her own drum, she isn’t afraid to voice her opinion, she is very well informed! Yes, we would think, that is our Bryci. She was very difficult to raise, but clearly on the right path. A little positive feedback helped ease our concerns. The fact that she often read 30 books a month was a bit alarming.
During her senior year, Bryci’s English teachers gave me a paper she had written that had won a Superior Ribbon in a writing competition. The paper was on her dream to travel the world, to see elephants and hippos in the wild, to hike in jungles, walk along the Great Wall of China, scuba dive in foreign waters. Meet people along the way and try to understand other cultures by experiencing them first-hand. She wanted to smell, feel, taste and embrace all the things she had enjoyed through reading and imagination. I had no doubt that she would eventually do that, because that’s who Bryci is.
The day Matt came over and told us he was going to ask for Bryci’s hand in marriage, I was elated. This young man was smart, funny and adventurous! He too had been through the Trail Blazer program and was the perfect complement for Bryci. For every one of her “Let’s jump off this cliff!” ideas, he countered with “ Ok, but let’s make sure the water is deep enough first!”. He agreed to throw caution to the wind, sell everything he owned and join her on this wild notion. It isn’t easy taking your daughter and son-in-law to the airport, cheerfully waving good bye, and throwing a kiss as they approach security . I watched her taking off her shoes and tightly clutching the notebook in her arm that she had diligently used to plan their trip. I realized not that much had changed. She was still the child with the notebook, always planning, always checking things off. “See you in 18months!” Came out a little choked as I turned and headed for my car praying that they have the trip of their lives and return home safely.0