Opinion: A round of applause for the mom who got me here

My mom recently made the haul to Lynchburg to spend a weeknight with me. My wit and willpower had been through the wringer, and her presence here was a true comfort — a respite, a time-out from the chaos of graduation season and all its ensuing projects and preparations. There’s something about having your mom close by that just makes everything okay, and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that mine is willing to drop everything and drive two hours to eat pancakes and sleep in my bed.

With the exception of a few foundational figures, no one else has had an influence on my success and my sanity (especially during my collegiate career) quite like my mom has.

We haven’t always seen eye-to eye on things, and I’ve probably broken and re-broken her heart a thousand times and in a thousand ways without realizing as I’ve grown into my personality and independence. But in my 22 years, her love has never been anything other than unconditional — a fierce, unapologetic, tenacious, enveloping force that’s given me both roots and wings.

This semi-sweet-but-mostly-just-a-hot-mess-someone’s-been-grading-me-on-for-the-last-four-years experience hasn’t exactly been a cakewalk. (Whoever says their college experience was, I’d like to meet them and maybe punch them.) But because of my mom, I made it. The soon-to-be graduate I am, the obstacles I’ve overcome, the mountains I’ve climbed and valleys I’ve escaped unscathed… I owe it all to her.

For all the times I entertained the thought of giving up, there was my mother’s unwavering support and encouragement to propel me forward. “You can do it,” she’d tell me. “I believe in you.” And she meant it.

For all the nights I needed a break from the books, I could count on her to chat on the phone for an hour or two.

And for all the gloomy days and nights when I felt like I was falling apart and, by default, felt like everything around me was, too, she was there to listen and translate what I was trying to say between sniffles and sobs, offer consolation and pray me through to the other side.

When things were dark, my mother was a northern star. An oasis dispensing hope to me like fresh water in the middle of a desert. Her faith is as strong as her character, and I’m not sure if I would’ve made it this far without both of those things pouring into mine.

College has been a carnival ride, and I’ve been waiting all my life to say this:

Mama, I made it.

We made it.

Rachel Estes will be graduating December 2018. This tribute to her mother fits not only the graduation issue, but also salutes the parents who unselfishly support and enable their children to pursue their dreams.

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