My Mother’s birthday is January 2nd. Go ahead, quiz me, I know that one. I don’t even have to think about. Still, it happens every single year. I survive Christmas. I plop my exhausted butt into a chair and wearily pat myself on the back for another holiday season success. Right around the time I’m primping for New Year’s Eve the realization strikes. Downtown stores are closed and don’t reopen until the 2nd, Mom’s birthday. So begins the scramble.. what do I get her? which place is open? how do I avoid traffic in getting there? Every. Single. Year. I’m pretty sure it’s not just me. If I had to wager, I’d say this has happened to her since birth. She deserves better.
Birthday cards are nice. They say pretty things and have shiny covers. Cards convey a blanket message that we all hope our loved ones already knew before we bestowed upon them folded paper adorned with glitter and words. My Mom knows that I love her. She knows that I respect her, that I’m thankful to have her in my corner, that I’m fortunate that she’s my friend. I’ve given her enough store-bought cards in the past to drive that point to the moon. This year I thought I’d try something a little different. Here are a few reasons (that I’ll never find in any greeting card) why my Mom is the best Mom.
My first life lesson: “Respect your elders.”
This is seriously the first thing I remember my mother saying repeatedly. I learned to mind my tongue at a very early age. I was rewarded by my elders with a tremendous amount of wisdom. It is amazing what is imparted if you just shut up and listen. I also raised my children this way. Now I get to reap the benefits of being their elder.
Inadvertent life lesson: “Girl power”
My Mom could do anything when I was a kid and she rarely needed help. From softball coach to fashion show emcee, she would take on any role. My friend and I still marvel at the one time Mom helped me move. Julie & I struggled with the couch. We were absolutely shamed when my tiny mother pushed us out of the way and humped that thing all the way inside by herself. Hell, even now she finds her doctor’s advice to be cute but not an overly effective barrier in accomplishing what needs to get done.
Unfortunate life lesson: “Never say ‘NO'”
My Mom is “girl power” all the way. She does not like to ask for help. She’ll take it when offered, of course. She is not, though, going to ask you to help. Ever. On the flip side, she will never say “No” to anyone who asks her for help. Even when she’s crushed under a weight of responsibility, if a friend needs a favor, she’s first in line. If she’s double-booked when a family member needs her ear, she simply multi-tasks. If she’s supposed to be taking it easy and a neighbor asks her to shovel, she shovels.
Most appreciated life lesson: “Cooking”
My Mom can cook and bake. She’s a Goddess in the kitchen. That is not an overstatement. My little home-chef Mom could give most celebrity chefs a run for their money. I was resistant to it for years, but her genius is finally starting to rub off on me. My kids and my husband are the ones who appreciate this life lesson most. They have to eat my cooking.
Yet-to-learn life lesson: “Stain removal”
I stained my favorite white lace dress with brown mustard. While trying to clean it, I tore the stitching. When I lamented to my Mom, she said, “Bring it over. I’ll see what I can do. It’s not like I can ruin it now.” Not only is that thing whiter than the day that I bought it, she also fixed the stitching so you can’t even find the damage I caused. Bacon grease from my husband’s Lions jersey, gone. Food, dirt, blood from my son’s favorite swim sweatshirt, erased. Mildew stains on a wet swimsuit left too long in a plastic bag, annihilated. She’s the Slayer of Stains.. or a sorceress.
Happy birthday, Mom! Thank you for being my how-to manual for life! I clearly still have a lot to learn. I LOVE YOU!