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>Double-Post Friday

May 7, 2010

>I wanted to honor Mother’s Day for real this year, instead of just showing up at home and handing my Mom a homemade card, so I tried to think about what my Mom meant to me…and I ended up writing this, which I intend on giving her on Sunday (don’t ruin the surprise, kids! Not that you could anyway, because she’s probably sitting in a Spanish airport waiting to board the plane back from Barcelona right about now).

When you’re a little kid your mother can do no wrong. She has all the answers and a simple “it’ll be okay” is enough to reassure you in your darkest moment. Growing up, however, changes that. As a girl transitioning from child to teenager it seems at times that your mother is your worst enemy, and your father, useless. The agony that comes with bullying, zits, shaving your legs for the first time, trying to figure out why anyone would want to use a tampon, and the belief that none of the cute boys even know you exist is only exacerbated by an inability to use your mother’s advice properly. But, once you come into your own and your skin clears up, the hardest part of shaving is being able to afford the blade replacements, tampons are second nature, and the cute boys actually come to you, your mom has somehow become a person. This realization is one of the most beautiful and eye-opening moments in life: the acknowledgment that your parents are just people.
For me, this realization occurred in the middle of college and has been a continuation of smaller, equally eye-opening moments. As I grow up, my mother has gone from someone I can’t live without, to someone who won’t let me go, to someone I resented for her [what I now see as] guidance and wisdom, to a friend. Calling my mother a friend is something that I’m not sure I’ve ever done before, but it feels good. I speak to my Mom on the phone almost every day, but I am not, and have never been someone who needed to talk to her Mommy every day. The phone calls are brief and cover important topical issues and events. I let her know when something happens, when I need something, when I have something for her, or when I’m upset. More than anything, I find that I call her when I’m overwhelmed. That motherly reassurance is something that you never grow out of.
I’ve always known I was loved and cared for by my family, but we are not a mushy bunch. A genuine, heartfelt Hallmark card was something that was either given as a satirical joke or because it was the only thing lying around on a forgotten holiday. In college, my friends would receive care packages on Valentines Day filled with cookies and cards and rainbows and kisses and my mailbox would be empty until the next week, when I’d have a newspaper clipping about which vegetables to eat to avoid x, y, and z. It’s not that they didn’t care, it’s that they did. I’ve come to appreciate this brand of mutual understanding and love. I’d rather have useful information at my disposal than an extra 5,000 calories and a fluffy heart card.
As I trudge further and further into adulthood I realize just how much my Mother has done for her family. I won’t use the word sacrificed because that’s not appropriate, she didn’t sacrifice anything for us, but simply put our needs before her own. A truly good parent is a person who knows and understands how to be selfless without sacrificing their own dreams. I have always known that my mother was an artist, and she has never had to give that up, but she certainly put her work on the back burner for many years so that I could pursue my interests (and my brothers, theirs) and develop a foundation for the person that I would become. And in the past few months I have developed an increased interest in my mother’s work and have even decided to help her build a website and promote her paintings and other works. I feel no obligation to take on this position, nor do I feel that I owe her, persay, but I have a vested and genuine interest in the person that my mother is, other than my own “mother” figure.
This mother’s day, I don’t want to honor my mom for the mother that she is, because I’ve done that for twenty-four years, I want to honor her for the remarkable, beautiful, genuine, smart, open-minded, compassionate, selfless, talented, caring, practical, honest, too-honest, funny, silly, forward-thinking, Green, and loving person that she is.
I love you, Jill.
Have a very Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!
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