I consider myself exceptionally lucky. I have a bond with my family that has shaped my entire life. From an early age I knew that both my sister and I had a special couple of adults looking out for us. Before I was born, my parents made the selfless decision to split their shifts so that someone would always be home to be with me, and later, my sister. After eight years of marriage they decided that they would sacrifice their time together to provide the best possible life for their children. That same thought process has not faltered in the last thirty years, they both continually chose the option to benefit the whole rather than their individual selves.
Today my mother celebrates her sixtieth birthday. She doesn’t expect much in terms of celebration, birthdays were never a big ordeal in our household. Quite frankly, I think she would rather not be the center of attention but I suppose if there is ever a day to force someone into the spotlight, it’s probably their birthday.
So, for better or for worse, I’m forcing you into the spotlight today, Mom! You should be celebrated!
Usually, my mom is the first person that I think to call when I have a story, a joke, need to cry, or want someone to tell me what to do. I’ve spent many drives home from work yelling into her answering machine telling her to wake up and talk to me, she always picks up, tells me that I’m crazy, but listens and does her mothering through the telephone wires. She’s gives me advice, she pulls me back from the ledge, she yells with me, and always laughs with me.
Our relationship, just like any other, has gone through some transformations throughout the years, but the basic premise is always the same. Laura and I give her a lot of grief for her personality traits that we adore. We tease her for her jokes that “nobody gets” and her sarcasm that is not understood by the public, for ordering extra ice in every Diet Coke she’s ever consumed and always asking if restaurants have Pepsi or Coke, just to order the same drink every time. It never fails, that when she comes home from shopping there is at least one item for Laura, Justin, or myself, rarely anything for her. She never has anything she wants when it comes to gifts, we’re lucky she enjoys Pandora beads and three-wick candles or she’d still be getting gift certificates for hugs and kisses!
My mom is the type of person that even my friends gravitate toward, growing up, they would chat with her while hanging out at my house, visit her at work when they were in the neighborhood, and come to her with their own need for advice. Once I saw the love that my mom has for Justin, I knew that she would forever have three children. She welcomed him into our family with open arms and sometimes it feels like he’s been there all along, their bond is special. When we were struggling through Justin’s first treatment process she invited us over one Saturday for dinner, just to get us out of the house. That one night turned into a four year tradition of Saturday night dinners. We don’t always end up having dinner each week, but more often than not, we are sitting together laughing, eating, and relaxing as a big crazy family.
Most recently, she has spent all of her free time helping my grandmother transition to her new living space. I’ve tried to be as helpful as possible, meeting with her on Saturdays to spend the day cleaning and organizing, but it’s nothing compared to the time and energy she has had to put in over the last five weeks. All of the time we have spent sifting through years of memorabilia have given us ample time to support each other, she has listened as I walk her through our day-to-day from that week, she shares her excitement and frustration with me, and we make our way through each individual step of the moving process. I find myself stopping every once and a while to just watch her find a piece of her life in a box, wrapped in newspaper, to remember a funny story, to take a deep breath and pick up the next load to be packed, or to make a funny face at me. I know that if I am half of the woman my mother is by my sixtieth birthday that I will be proud. Now, if I could only get Facebook to stop suggesting I tag her in my photos of myself, that would be great.
Happy birthday Mom! I love you and hope that you got to do something for yourself today. I’m sure you didn’t, because that’s not in your nature, but at the very least I hope you got some love sent your way.
See you Saturday!