In the final episode of Pamela Adlon’s Better Things – the most authentic and life-affirming exploration of mother/daughter relationships I’ve seen – there is a simple moment that I just loved. The title character, Sam Fox, is hosting a wedding where things get chaotic but with Sam’s usual grace and wit, she manages through it extremely well. During the wedding festivities and calamity, the youngest of her three daughters, Duke, stops for a moment, observes her mother and with heartfelt sincerity says to her, “You’re nice. You’re a really good person. You have a way of bringing people together and making people feel good. And, I don’t know, I like it. I like you. I like the way you live your life.”
It was a moment that embodied what I think every mother (parent, mentor, friend…) secretly wants to hear. When you’ve dedicated a huge amount of time and energy to a young person who is finding their way in the world, it is a gift to finally hear those words. Words that go beyond “thank you mom, you’re the best!” to something that makes you realize you’ve finally been seen – not as a mom, but as a person who is also trying to navigate their way through the world.
So, on this Mother’s Day, consider the opportunity to express how you feel about this person who has been so central in your life. While my mother is no longer here, I often think if I could have just one more conversation with her, there is so much I would love to say to her – mostly about how I saw her show up for others, how creatively she used her time, and how she exhibited a vibrant curiosity for all things in life. I learned so much from her and she shaped who I am today. While I hope I did share some of that with her while she was alive, I feel even better prepared to more fully express those sentiments now.
For Better Things’ Sam Fox, it’s crucial to tell, and show, the important ones in your life how much they mean to you, whenever you can. Such things cannot wait until after it’s too late and they’ve gone. So, whether it is your mom, a friend, a mentor, an important person to you – let them know you see them. That might be just about the best gift you could give them.