Now, while it would be nice if my relationship with my mother was happy and peaceful 24/7, it’s not. Like every mother and daughter, we argue. She can be brutally honest. If she hates what I’m wearing, she will nag me until I change. Honestly though, our arguing only brings us closer. We blow off steam, yell a little and then we forgive each other. That’s one reason why I feel close to my mom. She gets angry but she doesn’t hold a grudge.
Whenever I go to a kickback to hang out with my friends, I am the only sober one. My friends say I should go wild once in a while but I don’t because of my mom. Showing her that I can be responsible is important to me. I feel I owe her for everything she’s done for me. She has helped me figure out what I want to do with my life, what I enjoy doing and what my goals are. I want to make her proud, which makes me work harder. This may sound surprising, but I actually feel lucky to have my mom.
I didn’t always realize how awesome my mom was. When I was younger she was just “Mom.” But looking back, I wonder how she had all that energy. Until I was 14, she’d get up at six in the morning on Saturdays to take me to swim meets. She drove me to my basketball games and picked me up after Junior Life Guards. She has driven me to commercial, TV and movie auditions since I was 4 and when I booked a job she had to hang around all day until I was done.
In swimming, she’d be the first person to cheer and say “good job,” even when I was last. I loved swimming, but I never won trophies or medals. By the time I was 12, it was disappointing to lose so much. When I told my mom that I wanted to quit, she said, “Give it another try, all it takes is practice. But if you find your heart really isn’t in it, then quit.” I was motivated to keep swimming. That summer I tried out for Junior Life Guards and I passed. If I had quit swimming, I probably would not have made it. My mom’s support taught me to stick to my goals.
She encourages me to pursue writing
But the best thing she did was help me discover that I want to be a writer. In seventh grade she read my essay about The Diary of Anne Frank. She said, “Wow, this is really good, you really have a talent in writing. If you enjoy it, you should definitely pursue it.” From then on I started writing and reading more. I wrote free verse poetry about friends and family or beautiful scenery like the ocean. I also wrote short stories in this little brown notebook. Around the end of eighth grade I told my mom how much I enjoyed writing. A couple days later she told me she had Googled “teen journalism” and found out about a teen newspaper called L.A. Youth. (I call my mom “Google Queen” because she finds programs that I could never find if I surfed the Web for hours.)
Being a part of L.A. Youth got me interested in journalism. In March I wanted to apply for a place on my school newspaper staff, but the chance of getting picked seemed unlikely because a lot of people had applied. I told my mom and her advice was to try anyway. So I applied and became the newest member of my school’s paper, The Sword and Shield.
Don’t get me wrong, my mom’s not pressuring me to work and study 24 hours a day. She does a lot of silly things for me and my sister. She’ll take my friends and I driving around the beach for hours while we sing our hearts out to songs by The Used, My Chemical Romance, the Bee Gees and Donna Summer.
Last June, I got her to wake up at 4 a.m. to take my friend and I to the Disneyland premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. She waited with us for 17 hours so we could see Johnny Depp, my favorite actor. Thanks to my mom driving me to the sets where Johnny Depp is filming and to premieres, I have met him five times. She calls me obsessed but I think she enjoys going with us. I love when me and my mom hang out. It’s almost as if she’s like a teen, so my friends and I love having her around.
I trust my mom with tough decisions because she’s truthful. At the beginning of ninth grade I was going to my first party, and I was nervous about what others would think of me since I was going to be the only one not drinking. On the way to the party I told my mom and she said, “Sometimes your friends are going to do things that you don’t want to do. You know that it’s against your better judgment to go along and do the same stuff.” It was not a lecture, but her way of telling me she trusts me. That’s my biggest reason for not doing anything dumb. She told me about parties she went to when she was in college. There were people who did drugs and drank but she always stayed away from it. She said, “There are always going to be people who do that stuff, but the important thing is that you know that it’s not right and you have the strength and smarts to stay away from it.”
It’s easier to resist peer pressure
Now I’m more comfortable with my decision to not drink until I’m older. At school, if someone asks me if I’m “partying” this weekend, I’ll say, “Nah, I’m a complete straight edge.” I have met a few people this year who aren’t into the party scene, so that also makes it easier.
I was always appreciative of all the things my mom did for me, and the way she balanced her job as a Macy’s vendor (she sets up the display cases) and running around after us at the same time. But getting older made me realize what a strong, intelligent and caring woman she is. Nowadays I notice more of the little things that my mom does for me every day and I make sure she knows that I appreciate her by saying thank you. I hope that someday I can be as strong and smart as she is. She is more than my mother, she is my hero.
Other stories by this author:
The day I met Johnny Depp! Nattalie got to meet her hero at the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory premiere. (May – June 2005)
Out of balance. Nattalie writes about her struggle with her weight. (March – April 2006)