It’s Monday, which is the day we all tend to be a little less perky and a lot under-caffeinated as we take on the new week. I can be just as cranky and under-caffeinated as anyone on a Monday, but as I’d like to do my part to combat the global crankiness epidemic, it seems like an opportunity to take another page from the Awesome People Files. Today, I’m tackling the ultimate in awesome people – my momma, Barbara. I would have made her the first entry in the Files last week, but I wanted to wait for today because it’s her 70th birthday. After all, having lived 70 years on this earth, she has enough stuff but I don’t think she’s ever gotten an essay for a birthday present yet.
When I started thinking about writing about my mom, I realized that it’s actually a bit of a daunting task. She is the one person who has known me intimately since the day I was born – and as such the choices are to write a book explaining her awesomeness in great detail, or to just write a little bit to give you all a taste. Here are a few random things I dig about my mom.
- She’s smart. Like, wicked smart. She was valedictorian in high school, and knocked it out of the park in college and grad school – and has tried to keep learning ever since then. When she was still busy raising kids and working, I didn’t realize how much she liked to figure out new stuff, but since I’ve gotten older I’ve watched her dig in and learn about topics you’d never expect an English composition and literature teacher to figure out – like computer stuff, and legal stuff, and all manner of other things. The older I get, the more I realize this tendency is one of the most important things people need in order to make living a long life interesting and productive.
- She’s funny. One of the things we do in my family is bend words until they break . This applies not just to my immediate family, but also to my cousins on my mom’s side. My mom has always been a ringleader when it comes to propagating this kind of humor – she is a firm believer that anyone who says puns are the lowest form of humor just isn’t quick-witted enough to understand them – and to this day, one of the main ways I can tell whether a new acquaintance is my kind of people is whether they can keep up with our type of humor.
- She’s a soft place to land. I’m a pretty independent sort, and I don’t let many people see when I am really, truly hurting. To be fair, I don’t always let her know the tough stuff, but when I do she doesn’t disappoint. I am one of those people who doesn’t remember my childhood in great detail, but as an adult I’ve dealt with some really difficult times and she’s been there. In some cases, “being there” has consisted of being ignored while I am curled up in the fetal position crying, but she is a smart enough cookie to realize that sometimes the most important thing to do is be in the same building, but leave me the heck alone.
- She has been a good momma since the day I met her. There are all kinds of ways she has been a good momma – she was loving, she attended activities, she showed up for a lot of the important stuff in life – but that’s not the most important way. Somewhere along the line, she (and my dad) managed to make me feel loved, but also make me understand that it’s my responsibility to think critically and make good decisions, and also that doing the right thing won’t always make you popular but you have to do it anyway. As a result of these teachings, I’m a better friend, daughter, sister, romantic partner, employee, and just an all around better person.
There are many more thing.s I could write, but this gets at the heart of it.
Happy Birthday, Momma. Here’s hoping for 70 more.