Design by Melia Kenny

I’ve always been deemed a bit of a momma’s child. 

Grabbing your hand or hiding behind your leg, a scared child. 

I knew I was safe from everything.

The boring world of math. The dangers of human society. 

Having crust on my sandwiches.

The only thing I wasn’t safe from

Was growing up.

So I did.

Because I had to.

I had to be a part of this family.

We joke that I look like no one in the family —

Me, the wrong baby taken home from a British hospital —

But secretly, 

If I can say this honestly

I was always glad I looked most like you. 

One of your three kids had to.

It’s an honor that it’s me.

Because I get to. 

I get to do these amazing things,

These many amazing things

That not everyone has the chance to do.

Like attend a prestigious university,

Like tell stories for people who want to listen,

Like care deeply for my friends and family,

Things I strive to not take for granted every day.

Because I have your support.

I have your support more like a best friend than a mother,

A friend who loves and listens with the fervor and wisdom of a mother.

It cannot be easy, I know

Seeing your child, the youngest of the flock, 

Turning 22.

Ready to graduate college.

Ready to move on and up and out.

To fly out of the nest and seek their own destiny.

To define their own identity.

Because I am expected to.

I am expected to be okay with the marching of time,

The endless and unstoppable forward momentum of time.

It is not easy, you know,

That your child, the youngest of the flock,

Has turned 22.

They are not ready to graduate college.

They are not ready to move on or up.

They are certainly not ready to move out.

To seek their own destiny.

To define their own identity.

Because life is a lot scarier without your leg to hide behind. 

Without your leg to hide behind, the shadows of adulthood look much scarier.

Even when a light shines on them and they go away, they are much scarier.

Facing them alone, venturing through the woods

In the way a child must

Once they stop being viewed as merely a child.

You can only pave the road so far,

Until I take your place.

Because I am expected to stand on my own.

To stand on my own, with you on the sidelines,

Passionately cheering me on and providing orange slices.

My number one supporter and biggest fan,

Reading articles about a digital world you don’t always get. 

My cheerleader dancing to Marcia Ball,

Although it was never actually Marcia Ball playing.

But you’d dance anyway and ask me to join you.

And I would groan and giggle and roll my eyes,

But I would join you anyway.

Because I would not be who I am without you.

Without you, I would not have my passion for music.

Because you created a place for me and others to practice it.

Or my passion for reading.

Because you would buy me books when I sped through them in a day.

For love. For helping. For listening. 

Because you care so much about others, 

Putting the needs of those we love at the forefront of our minds,

An endless well of love.

For crabs. For musicals.

Because there is no greater joy than you digging into a crab the same way 

one digs into a great piece of art. 

For my family.

Because without you, we would not know who to be. 

Because we learn from you every day.

Because we strive to make you proud every day.

So please allow me, 

Just this one more time, please allow me

To quietly wander up to you while you are talking.

To poke your leg and grab your hand.

Enveloping your hand in mine,

My hand that only yesterday did not appear to be larger.

Let me sit you down and place your hand on your lap.

So that, just once more, 

I may rest my head upon it and fall asleep.

To fall asleep as a child on their mother’s hand,

The world will be at peace if only for a moment. 

Because I will not want anything more than for it to last forever. 

Because on your hand, sleeping,

I exist as a mother’s child forever.

Digital Culture Beat Editor M. Deitz can be reached at mdeitz@umich.edu.