It was a summer morning, and I was 15 years old. My best friend, Chloe, sent me a text: “Are you free tonight? A group of us are having a bonfire in Santa Cruz, hope you can make it!”
Spoiler: I couldn’t make it. I was scheduled to work that evening at our neighborhood sandwich shop, Togos, and at that moment, nothing sounded more miserable than slapping together pastrami sandwiches and dealing with cranky customers, while my friends were running into the waves, laughing around a bonfire, and making memories without me.
All morning, I frantically texted co-workers asking if anyone could cover my shift. And of course, every reply spelled the same word: No. My devastation grew worse throughout the day as I realized all my favorite people would be attending the bonfire: my boyfriend, my youth leader, my girlfriends.
To this day, I cannot tell you why I was so upset about not being able to go to that hangout. Maybe it was the hormones. Or maybe it was because I didn’t feel confident in my friendships at that time (high school) and thought that if I missed the most epic summer hangout, everyone would forget about me. Or maybe it was just a case of FOMO, which is something I still struggle with from time to time.
Whatever the reason, my disappointment grew to the point where I was near tears, sitting at the kitchen table with my mom, who happened to have that day off from work. After receiving another text about that dumb, important bonfire, I blurted, “Morgan just said she’s going to the beach, too. Doesn’t anybody work? EVERYONE is going except me.”
To my surprise, my mom said: “We’re going to do something fun for these next couple of hours to take your mind off the bonfire. What do you want to do? Anything you want.”
So, I thought of something that I had wanted to do since middle school: “Let’s get my nose pierced!”
My mom paused and studied my face. She then said, “Okay,” and walked out of the kitchen to grab her purse. We drove to the tattoo parlor, and she let me squeeze her hand and said, “It’s okay, baby, you got this,” as the piercer poked a sparkling stud near the center of my right nostril.
While that piercing trip could be perceived as a mom distracting her daughter from hard feelings, to me, it was much more than that. In that moment, my mom cradled my tangly, bruised, and confused teenage heart. She validated my feelings, met me and comforted me in a way I hadn’t expected. She showed me that sometimes in life, we have to do the mundane, unexciting things, but every once in a while, we also get a sweet surprise. And, 14 years later, that memory still means the world to me. Now whenever I see photos of younger me, grinning with that shiny stud in my nose, I can’t help but smile and feel grateful for a mom who sees me.
How about you? What are kind things people have done for you? I’d love to hear your memories.
(Photo from Ladybird.)