I was thinking about my mother today, because yesterday was Mother’s Day, and I was out of town, and I didn’t honor her on her day with anything but a couple of text messages. I did go to lunch with her last week and wish her a Happy Mother’s Day then, but it’s not the same. So here is a list of reasons that I honor and appreciate my mother.
She set out in the world on her own, leaving behind parents who saw no reason for her to leave them or their provincial existence. She was not taught that she was beautiful, or smart, or capable, or strong, but she took off on her own anyway, and she never looked back.
She was an elementary school teacher for years before becoming a mom, lifting up other people’s kids and doing it with purpose and creativity. When she did become a mom herself, she went all in. She went from single and childless to married with 2 (step)children in the matter of a few months. She made mistakes, as anyone would, but she was always earnest and sincere. Then, after birthing 2 more children, she waited 6 years then started fostering. She was mom to 38 more kids this way, some for a few days or weeks, some for years. 38 babies in 13 years. Or 42 kids in 23 years? That’s a pretty amazing run. That’s a lot of kindness for strangers, too.
She started a career as a social worker 13 years after ending her career as an elementary school teacher. When most normal humans would say, “That’s it. I’m done.” She said, “That’s it. What’s next?” And she picked an exhausting, underpaid, underappreciated job and did it well. She even became the support system for the other social workers, putting candy, a rocking chair, and a big ol’ teddy bear in her office so her coworkers could come and rock and vent.
After retirement, she reinvented herself again. She worked out. She became a vegan. She became healthier and stronger and more fit than she had been in any other period of her life. She went to the community college and learned pottery and creative writing. She started with Reiki and kept developing and evolving her spiritual and meditative skills along a path that grew and changed along with her. She made new friends.
She wrote 2 books, a novel and a memoir. I’ve only ever talked about writing books. She did it. Twice.
She kept on adapting, growing, and evolving. When my Dad was facing health problems, she willingly left her home of 40 years behind to move to a new city to be close to her kids. She started taking care of the man who had always been fiercely, quietly, stubbornly independent. She gave up the friends and the spiritual community she had spent her retirement building in her old hometown and embraced starting over in a new home and a new town. And she’s working, slowly and surely, to build a new community for herself while still staying focused on taking care of her husband in his new health situation.
She is proud and supportive and encouraging to her kids and grandkids.
She knows her limits, and lets herself be who she is. She’s not comfortable driving far from home or in new environments. She prefers texts over phone calls. She communicates her boundaries clearly and asks for help when she needs it.
She laughs at herself, loves wordplay, and teases those she’s close to with love and kindness. I think it’s her diet, her physical activity, and her humor that have kept her healthy enough to maintain her independence all these years and make it possible for her and Dad to still be living in their own home taking care of themselves.
She gave birth to a great guy who is kind, loving, smart, and funny. And in case my brother is reading this, it’s me. I’m talking about me. Though you’re all right, too.
Happy Mother’s Day Mom! I love you, and I’m proud of you! Keep on rocking it!