I’ll be the first person to admit I was the typical teenager.

I was angsty and mean and thought my life was much harder than it probably was. 

Sure, I had some issues growing up — who doesn’t? My parents were divorced when I was really young, I always thought they loved my brother more than me and I had any number of insecurity issues in high school.

But looking back on it, I can say I had a pretty good life. My parents took care of me and they taught me how to be a responsible adult. 

If they had’ve handed me everything on a silver platter, I likely wouldn’t be where I am today. I was taught to work hard, make well-thought out plans, set goals for myself and find a way to achieve them even if it was tough.

As they say, though, hindsight is 20/20.

When I was in the midst of my high school life, my mother and I — well, we didn’t like each other very much, to put it bluntly. We fought like cats and dogs; we never saw eye to eye; and once I got older and more independent, we pretty much avoided each other at all costs. It wasn’t easy.

In a lot of ways, I felt abandoned. My mom was in a long-distance relationship and two days after my graduation, she moved cross country to be with my stepdad. I was angry for a long time with her about that — well, about a lot of things, but mostly about that. It felt like she wanted to get away from me when in reality, I now know that wasn’t the case at all.

Oddly, my mom moving across the country helped our relationship grow to new heights. I was off to college at Virginia Commonwealth University and she was settling into her new life in Montana. What no one ever told me was having an over-the-phone relationship somehow made things a lot easier and with less pressure.  

See, when you’re on the phone, you both have ultimate veto power. If I said something she didn’t like, she could just hang up. And if she said something I felt like was judgmental or I just didn’t want to hear, the hang-up button became my friend. When you know all that’s keeping you together is the potential click of one button, it makes you value the other person more and think about what you’re going to say before you say it.

Fast forward more than 10 years and it’s hard to believe my mom has become one of my best friends. For many, many years, we talked every single day. During those days in college, I had a set time, 5:45 p.m. each evening, when I’d call her. I was getting ready for class and she was leaving work. When I took a 5:30 p.m. class, it was almost like we didn’t know what to do.

Now, my mom and I don’t talk every day. That’s mostly because my life is typically revolving around sports and I don’t get off work until late most nights. However, we still talk at least a few times a week and during the pandemic, my mom has started a Zoom chat with my entire family every Sunday as another way for us to connect.

And even if we don’t talk every night, my mom is still my go-to person. I never thought I’d be a 30-year-old woman who called her mom when she was looking into buying a new car or thinking about having her boyfriend move in. But I value my mom’s opinion more than most people’s. 

When I’m hurting or confused or frustrated, I just want my momma and I’m not afraid to say it.

Growing up having a tumultuous relationship with my mother actually brought us closer in the end. We’ve shared experiences most wouldn’t understand and have come out stronger on the other side. 

I almost never get to be with my mom on Mother’s Day because we still live a country apart, but she’ll settle for a Zoom date with the rest of the family and knows she’s the glue that keeps us all together — even when we’re apart.

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor of The Outlook.