It’s My Mom’s Birthday.

This is, usually, what's up.

This is, usually, what’s up.

My mother, the woman who taught me by word and example that females were every bit as capable as males– and whose inexplicable total and unwavering belief in me has informed who I am to this day (I mean, for all I know she’s been worried this whole time that I would become a meth addict. But if that’s the case, she’s been hiding it like a champ), turns 69 today. I want to tell you some things that I know about her, because she is amazing.

  1. Mom was probably worried, stressed, anxious, upset, etc. a lot when we were kids. I mean: there were five of us, and we were idiots. But the only time I remember her losing it was when we were at the mall and Jill and I were bickering (fun fact: Jill and I did not get along for YEARS when we were kids). Suddenly Mom started to cry and said, “I can’t handle this.” To Jilly’s credit, she immediately stopped and gave Mom a hug. I was a bigger asshole though, and I did nothing. That moment, though, permanently imprinted in my head: Mom is actually affected by our bullshit!! I never forgot it. (Sorry that I didn’t hug you, too, Mom. I was a dick.)
  2. I know I’ve told you about my much-hated Buster Brown haircut. I will also tell you that it was the device of a woman who could not, could not, could NOT do little girls’ hair. I remember being jealous of my friend Jennifer, whose mom used to French braid hers. Now I’m just glad Mom knew her limitations.
  3. Mom is, like, the calmest person in crisis. I have tried (and mostly failed, not gonna lie) to model my own crisis behavior after hers, because she becomes so instantly calm and take-charge and attacks the issue. It’s like, “Oh, thank God I’m telling someone who can fix this.” To this day, the best thing I can do if something is urgently stressful is tell my mom about it.
  4. I have zero physical grace. I may have mentioned this before; I have none. I get this rare and precious gift from Jojo, who has (if possible) even less than I do. AND she takes a joke like no one’s business. I have learned from my mother not to take myself so seriously all the damn time.
  5. Once, in college, I broke up with one boy in the afternoon and had a date with another boy– who I would date for the next several years- later that evening. To my mom’s credit, she was really nice about helping me manage those two dates– even though (again) I was being kind of an asshole. (It’s a theme. I know.)
  6. When Cam was born and was colicky and screamed for the better part of each day and most of each night, and everyone was giving me suggestions and basically acting like, if only I wasn’t so bad at being a mother, Cam would stop crying, and I was sleep-deprived and overwhelmed and insecure and thought I was a failure– Mom said to me over and over, “He’s your baby. You know him better than anyone else. If you can’t stop him from crying then no one can, so don’t take it personally.” It is one of the most helpful and supportive things anyone has ever said to me.
  7. She’s a pretty spectacular grandma, too– at all ages. Addie J routinely asks to hang out with Grandma Jo rather than do other things where she would potentially get to stay in hotels and eat every meal in restaurants and play video games for hours. This is a pretty big vote in Mom’s favor.
  8. She, with my dad, raised five children to adulthood and not one of us has ever gotten divorced or gone to jail. These are my own markers for parental success, so Mom has done pretty well by those.
  9. She’s game and she always has been game. She is willing to run silly obstacle courses, and go see stupid movies, and drive hundreds of miles to see football games and plays. She will hop on one foot for an entire block if someone feels like it. She will do a shot of vodka and Red Bull if one is placed in front of her. Want to take a last-minute trip? She will come. If you have an idea– any idea at all– Mom is up for it.
  10. Mom has shown us all, our entire lives, what love and strength and loyalty look like. She’s always been my role model– even when I was a bratty teenager who refused to give her a hug. Thanks, Mom. I know I’m a jackass a lot of the time. Happy birthday!!!!  Love you!!!!!!


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