Mother’s Love

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Today is my mother’s birthday. And it’s one of those years where I don’t have a physical gift to give her. Yes, there will be a homemade card, a lunch with Margherita Pizza, and a yellow cake with chocolate icing. I know she will enjoy it because it’s what she wants. I want to give her so much more.

My mom is a huge influence in my life. At this point in her life, she seems to be the most confident I have ever known her to be. And not in the “I have no idea what I’m doing, so I’ll just act confident and hope people believe me” kinda way. Anyone who is a parent knows that kind of “confidence.” She’s more self-assured and assertive – ask my Dad. She is and always has been, incredibly real. Now they call it authentic.

My mom never pretends to be something she is not. She’s never been over-the-top or one to back down when she believes in something. Especially when that something is me. Alright, or one of my siblings. She has always seen things in each of us that we couldn’t see in ourselves. She would try and show us those traits that made us special. We didn’t always believe her. But with years to look back on, she was right. This is her chance to say “I told you so.”

No matter what direction I took, she has always supported me. Even when she knew that my choice was a bad one. She would attempt to get me back on track and, on occasion, when that didn’t work she would tell me that she couldn’t support whatever it was. At the time, I might accuse her of turning her back on me. But that was never true. Instead, she didn’t sleep at night, couldn’t eat, prayed continuously, and waited for me to come home. Luckily, I always made it home.

I look to her for advice, support, and unconditional love. Because she is as close as I will ever get to unconditional love without getting a puppy. I have ignored her, yelled at her, tried to prove I didn’t care about her, accused her of trying to run/ruin/control my life. And that was just the teen years. She stood by me anyway. She still saw the good in me despite the not so good. I once asked her why she never kicked me out of the house. Her answer? “One day you’ll understand.”

She’s also a lot of fun. High school friends will remember parties at our house where the furniture got pushed against walls and my parents taught them how to dance. Not only did she try and teach the boys how to lead but, she also taught the girls how to lead, just in case. She’s the type of person you want to sit next to at a party because she’s incredibly observant. My dad is the boisterous one. Mom is the witty one.

My mom and I share a love of going to the movies, reading, and puzzles. She’s got more talent than she will admit to. She can draw and write. And I have to remind her of both, regularly. I can spend an entire day with her just talking over tea, sitting quietly in a room reading, dreaming over catalogs, anything really. At the end of that kind of day, I will feel calm, centered, and loved. Because she is all of those things.

She’s the best of all of us.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

Family

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The most influential people in my life have been that small band of folks that I was born into, my Family. We’ve been through it all together. Ups and downs, celebrations and disasters, even truths and secrets. Much of what happened throughout the years has shaped us towards what we are today. Yes, there were things each of us had to overcome but the strength of this Family has helped each of us stand on our own together.

This Family came with others as well. The grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins that are attached to our parents. I’ve spent parts of my life living near this extended family and parts living far away. I like living near much better. They are a rowdy band of interconnections that will rally around you in a crisis because you are Family.

The funny thing is that as this menagerie has grown and contracted over the years through marriage and divorce, births and deaths, we always come back to our original Family. A touchpoint that helps us be okay. We don’t always agree but we try and listen to each other. We try to support one another.

Then there are the people that come in the side door. It may be that someone’s bad choice has brought a jewel into our Family that we absorb and love as our own. Or the friends that I allow deeper into my life. Those folks I’ve gathered along my meandering journey that have become family. The ones that will call my parents to check on me if I’m not responding to them. The people who have stuck with me through the darkest of times as well as the joyful ones. Even the ones I thought I lost, that came back to me so they were there when I needed them most.

All of these people comprise my family. Not everyone sees things the way I do. For as many family members that I have, there are that that many differing opinions and beliefs. It’s not all sunshine and roses. There are fights and feuds woven in and out of some truly funny and loving memories. Yet we are able to come together at the most important times. We put aside differences to be there for one another. We care about the well-being of every member of this tribe. We learn who the strong ones are, who is sensitive, who will help, who will gossip, who will hold you tight and we act accordingly. Because we are Family.