Dear Mama,*

When you sent me a text to tell me you failed miserably at the locker decorating thing, I knew I had to be on high alert when I arrived home. The floor of your office was covered with crap, yes, but I also saw a couple of pieces of card stock with some photos taped onto it. I was confused because it looked like you were almost done but I know you well enough to know not to make too big of a deal out of it. 

When you asked me about whether or not you should arrive at the school early the next day and tape what you had to my locker, I shrugged and indicated it was no big deal. You decided not to. Still, no big deal.

But after seeing all of the other lockers, I decided I did want to participate. You kindly left the mess all over your office floor (was it really necessary to torture yourself?) so I quietly went into the room, just before school the next morning, flipped through the photos to find a few more, and started taping them to the card stock. 

You found me there and jumped right in to help finish the taping. You handed me the poster hanging strips and locked the door behind me as I carefully balanced the memories while I walked to the car.

Since I don't actually use a locker, I relied on the number the office staff gave me a couple of days ago but it wasn't anywhere near the senior hall so I choose a random, undecorated spot and hung the photos. And while there were plenty of impressive displays nearby, mine didn't look out of place. At all. 

Tonight, while we waited for interested newbies to arrive at the robotics informational meeting, I walked with you to look at the senior hall. A couple of my photos had fallen down and you helped me re-tape them. We didn't say much, although of course you took a picture or two, but I hope you saw how NOT A BIG DEAL this was. What you made was just fine. I mean, my baby photos are adorable, so how could it not be fine?

Listen, you have to learn to go easier on yourself. You've taught me to aim for levels I may never reach because it is better to try and fail than to sit in your office and cry over barely even trying. (Hint, hint.) 

And since I would defend you against anyone saying about you the kinds of things you said about yourself, knock it off. Be nicer to yourself. I'm grateful for your love and, although I am looking forward to having some space from all of this madness, you will always be my mom.

Also, in case you haven't heard me loudly and clearly enough, I decorated my cap, for graduation, tonight. Read the words. And chill.

Love, 

Steven

*He didn't actually say these words; the words are what I heard based on his looks, gestures, gentleness, and kindness this week. As always, he is the salve my soul needs to make it through my self-created dark moments. And, as always, I am grateful.