On her 52nd birthday

Monday, April 14, 2008

So, my mom doesn't read this blog, which is probably the best birthday gift I could ever possibly give her, but since today is her birthday, I wanted to honor her a little bit. I think often she doesn't always get the highest of praise, but truthfully, given the things that have happened in her life, she's done a remarkable job at not just surviving, but thriving. And, if I do say so myself, she managed to raise two successful and independent women, mostly on her own.

My mom was the third child of 5, the first girl and was always given the role of the "smart" kid. She was the valedictorian of kindergarten, 8th grade, high school and graduated Summa Cum Laude in only 3 years of undergraduate work. She now holds two Master's Degrees, and three different Teaching or Administrative Credentials. She's nothing if not incredibly intelligent.

She married my father when she was 22 years old and had my sister when she was 25. I was born when she was just barely 27. She worked full time as an elementary school teacher until we came along and then she worked part time as a reading specialist for the school district nearest our house. When we both were in full time school she became the full time reading specialist, splitting her time at 2 different schools each day.

On their 17th wedding anniversary, my dad moved out of the house. I was 12, my sister was 14. On what would have been her 20th wedding anniversary, my mom sold the only home I ever knew to pay for my sister's college expenses. We moved in with my grandparents to save money until we could buy a new house. We eventually found on, and it was ours, hers and mine. We went together to pick out tile and carpet and she and I became each other's whole worlds.

She didn't parent me in the way that most parents do, but I'd like to think it's because she instilled in me good enough morals that she didn't have to. I didn't do wrong things because I knew they were wrong. I didn't test my boundaries because I knew what they were and I knew why they were there. She was literally my best friend, my confidant and my hero.

Moving away from her to go to college was one of the most difficult things I've ever done and I know it tore her to pieces as well. Everytime I came home we both were reduced to tears at the idea of me driving the whole 90 miles back to school alone. Like I said, she was my best friend. We both grew a lot that first year after I moved away. In time she found someone to fill the void and 2 years later, married my step-father.

She has stood by him through prostate cancer (surgery was performed on the same day her mother died), through economic swirls and through his general obnoxiousness (oh, did I say that?). She is no longer a teacher as she was long ago promoted to the county coordinator for all things language arts related and she's damn good at her job.

There are times when I wish she fit the mom outline that other people have. She's not the queen of advice and she's been known to coin phrases like, "you're responsible for your own guilt." But she also said that she'd pay 400 dollars to fly out here for 4 days for this surgery if I wanted her to, which doesn't seem like a big deal until you realize how much money she's loaned or given us for this wedding and how big of a financial hole she's in. She just loves me.

She has her faults, but many of my favorite and most lasting memories from my adolescence involve me and her, sitting around the coffee table eating a gourmet feast of mac and cheese and ceasar salad while watching Friends. We carved out one hour a week that was just "us" time and it will always be something I'll think back on fondly.

So, on this, her 52nd birthday, I raise a glass to the woman who helped me to be the person I am. She gave me strength, intelligence and perseverance and those lessons are ones that I know I never could've experienced and grown from without her.

Simply put, she's my mom, and I love her. Happy birthday lady.


Ness said...

What a wonderful tribute to your mom. Thanks for appreciating all she has done/will do for you. It's the greatest gift a child can give her mother. Take care.

Flea said...

Hear hear! That was beautiful! You have so much to be grateful for in such a short life! What a wonderful daughter you are. :)

Daisy, Just Daisy said...

Hear hear.

kim-d said...


What a beautiful birthday post for your Mom, Katie. It made me miss my Mom even more than I usually do. Always remember--nobody loves you quite like your Mom does.