Happy Birthday, Mom

Note: This column was printed in the Barrow Journal on November 28, 2012.

This week my mother is turning 72 years old, though if you ask her, she might say she’s 75.  That’s right…her way of thinking is that if she tells you she’s older, you’ll say, “Wow! You look great for your age!”

Now that I’m a mother, I can look back on my childhood and appreciate the sacrifices and unconditional love my mother has given me.  My mom loved dancing, and she taught young children how to dance before she married my father.  She has never stopped loving dance, and she taught Dancercise when I was young, but mostly, she stayed home and took care of her home and children.

I don’t know if she ever had aspirations outside of family life, but I do know she doesn’t regret her choices.

If you had asked me when I was twenty if I wanted to follow in my mom’s footsteps and be a stay-at-home mom, I would have said, “No way.”  There were a lot of things I wanted to do, but having children was not high on my priority list.

Now, I credit my mothering ability partly to the example she gave me. Perhaps I can also credit my storytelling abilities to my mother.  My grandmother told me how as a child my mother would tell her friends outrageous stories.  For example, she told one of her friends that a man used to drive through Athens with a big truck, and he would pick up little children and take them to the river and drown them! My grandmother got a call from the friend’s parent for that one.

I can’t remember my mother telling me outrageous stories, but I can remember her tickling me until I fell off the bed and singing with her as she played the piano.  I remember her playing games with me to pass the time on long road trips, and I remember the prom dresses she spent too much money on to make me happy.

Growing up I had friends whose mothers were less than exemplary, and I could see that while sometimes I butted heads with my mom – probably because we’re alike – I was lucky to have her.  She has always been my biggest fan.  I’m certain that she’s the only person in the world who has read every word I’ve ever published.

I don’t have the words to express my deepest gratitude for that.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my mother it’s that I need to pay attention to my children. I need to want to know what they are willing to share.

My children will learn soon enough that the rest of the world cares very little about their needs, desires and the minor details of their lives. Though I hope they’ll find a community who supports and uplifts them, I plan to be the one who will always be there, no matter what.

I am lucky that I have a lot of people in my life who love me, support me, and would help me if I needed it, but my mother has been the one person whom I always knew I could turn to immediately, if I needed it.  There were times in my life when I lacked a community – I traveled and lived outside the country twice – but I always knew I could reach my mom at any moment.  That’s a feeling of security that every person deserves to have.

Happy birthday, Mom.  I love you, and I’m grateful everyday that you are my mom.

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