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Happy Birthday, Mom!

Yesterday was my mom's mutter-mutter-something-something-th day. Okay, actually, it was the anniversary of her birth, but more commonly known simply as her birthday. Many years ago -- but not as many as she might have you believe -- she was born a first-generation Californian on the 24th of February, the oldest girl of seven siblings, with one brother older than her. I point out that she was the oldest girl because what it really meant is that she was the babysitter-on-site for most of her siblings. I think gender matters in birth order, myself, especially in larger families.

Anyway, my mom. She's an amazing person, one who's lived through more trials and tribulations than last night's Lifetime movie. I don't want to embarrass her, or air too much family laundry, but it's kind of amazing that she is the together person she is. I come from the kind of family where we know many things about each other. Some people might be a little squeamish about hearing the story of their conception, but I think it's kind of cool. No, not the pornographic story -- that I don't want to know -- but I know that my dad tossed out my mom's birth control pills because they wanted to have a baby and I know where they think I was conceived. I know the story of how I came to be, and that's a cool thing. But I digress. I want to write about why you should celebrate my mom's birthday too, aside from the obvious achievement of having created me. ::grin::

My mom is a great judge of character. She hasn't been wrong often and I learned early on to pay attention when she didn't like someone. Oftentimes it wasn't so much that the person was bad as it was they were in a bad place and willing to help me find my way there too. Some of those people she didn't like me spending time with went on to be great human beings and she was also the first one to recognize that they had pulled themselves out of the bad place. Maybe it's not so much character she sees, but a sense of the direction a person is taking.

Mom rarely offers unsolicited advice, especially in the case of child-rearing. I'm grateful for it -- I feel supported without feeling evaluated. My mom is a fabulous grandmother -- loves spending time with my kids, actually wants to take them for weekends at a time. She was there for Jasmine when she was diagnosed with CF and she was there for Jasmine when she died. Mom has played with all my kids and openly enjoys doing so. I love that she is such a huge part of their lives and was glad to move back to the Southwest to make it easier on us. Their lives (and mine) are richer for it.

But what really makes my mom cool is that she's open-minded and smart -- oh yes, and a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, but that goes with open-minded and smart, right? ::wink:: We got her a computer for Christmas a few years ago and she taught herself how to use it; even knows how to do things I don't know how to do! Several years ago, when I got serious about being Wiccan, she didn't freak out. She listened, asked questions and read the books I offered her to help her understand. I love sharing with my mom -- I hope she sees her own hand in the direction my life has taken.

She and my dad both raised me to make up my own mind and to speak it -- not always an easy thing. I know there were several times when I was growing up where she came under fire from other adults because I spoke up about something and it was interpreted as being disrespectful. My mom has always backed me up on this and it is Mom I have to thank for being so opinionated and verbal. She never spoke to me as if I "wouldn't understand" and never tried to hide things from me. In some ways, this meant I grew up quickly. More importantly, it prepared me for what I had to deal with when I grew up. I certainly didn't leave my house sheltered and unable to cope with life.

Great sense of humor, too, my mom. Anyone who can deal with my brother would have to have one. ::grin:: Seriously, though, my mom has the coolest, snarkiest sense of humor you've ever encountered and people love her for it (in a weird, masochistic way). Jeff readily admits he wouldn't know what to do if my mom didn't pick on him. Of course, he pretty much begs for it, but that's another post. He's kind of sick that way. Mom is the undisputed Queen of the Zinger. She makes Roseanne look like Donna Reed.

Mom is quite crafty too -- when I was younger, I didn't appreciate all the great sewing she did. I grew into clothing consciousness in the label-crazed 80's and didn't fully appreciate the coolness of what she could do. By the time I figured it out, she didn't have the time to make my clothes anymore. There are wooden ornaments that go on her tree every year that she painted when I was very young. I remember the painting of the ornaments every time I look at that tree, and I remember all the years of Christmas that followed. Her house is full of cute projects and she is addicted to HGTV.

So anyway... my mom is the best. I am proud to see and hear her every day in the person I have become. If you agree, leave her a comment and tell her so.

(There was a post before this one today.)

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