Tomorrow is my Mom’s birthday. She’s amazing. I love and respect her more than any other women I have met or heard of. And while we usually give small gifts to her or gift cards or flowers, this year I thought I’d put in writing some of my top ten memories, moments and favorite things about her. Or at least try.
10: We always stand and sit the same. And always say the exact same thing at the exact same time. Then we realize that we’re standing or sitting or saying the same thing so we switch how we are standing/sitting and realize that we are then in the same position. Or stop talking mid-sentence at the same time. And then look at each other and burst out laughing. This happens a few times every time we’re together and we always end up laughing.
9: Daily walks and talks. She’s always up for going for walks. All through high school, one of the things I most looked forward to was getting home so that we could do our daily walk. We had a long version and short version. And we always chatted about things going on. Mostly I rambled on about high school things and now wonder how she ever endured hearing non-stop high school drama. We also talked about sad moments and hurtful moments. And then there was the day when we were still a ways from home and had on white t-shirts. And it started to rain. Hard. And we had no umbrella and all we could do was laugh. Now it’s a fun walk with Riley and Julia and they love going on them just like we do. Hoping to continue the walks with them as they grow.
Still today, my mom and I rarely go a day without having a conversation on the phone. We even email during work hours or facebook messages. But we almost always have a phone conversation. Usually about work or the girls, but it’s one of my favorite times every day. Always peaceful. And always reassuring.
8: Humor. I love my mom’s humor. She is sarcastic, wity and brilliant. She writes amazing. And has great lines to say – even if she doesn’t necessarily think of them when talking to someone. But she has great comebacks later J We’ve had so many moments of hilarious laughter. Like when my brother Jim answered the phone and called for my mom to talk to the telemarketer while imitating the man’s voice on the phone. My mom held the phone in her hand and was laughing so incredibly hard that she never answered it and ended up just hanging up. And we all died laughing.
7: Music has always been a part of our family. My grandparents were concert pianists who toured Europe and worked as the head of the music department at Connecticut College. My mom was a music teacher, pianist and worship leader. She never pushed me to take piano lessons, but did encourage me. And I’m sure she was glad when I started back at it when I was in high school. I love that our family has a rich history of music and that music continues to be so important in our lives. It’s a great legacy.
6: My mom instilled a love for travel in me at a young age. Going to London with my grandparents and my mom allowed me to fall in love with places beyond where I lived and fostered a love of meeting new people and learning about other cultures. We’ve traveled many places as a family and our next journey will be on a cruise to Bermuda for my brother’s wedding. I always loved having special time with her on vacations. There are several memories I have from our trip to London:
- Going to a restaurant and ordering a salad with carrots. Only to be served an entire plate piled high with carrots.
- Seeing the ballet “Sleeping Beauty” at the Royal Opera House. It was truly magical. And then I got a new ballet bag and some ballet items that I still have today.
- Watching “All About Eve” in our hotel room. Why I remember this, I have no idea. It seemed to be a very odd movie.
- Going to a toy store and picking out a porcelain doll. The doll now rests in Julia’s room on her shelf. I remember the doll was laying face down in the case and when they lifted her up, she was so beautiful.
I love that she traveled when she could and always encouraged seeing the world. Going to Italy with a crazy and sub-par group of singers was one of my favorites of all time. The stories were so funny.
And then there are the family vacations: Idaho, Disney World, Connecticut, Tennessee, Crystal Mountain Ski Resort. Spending lots of time with family and long car rides. And arguing over who gets to sit in the “middle middle” of the backseat. Or who will be the owners of stores in the mall while my mom is saying “We’re not going to ever own the mall!!” And we continue to fight over who would own the toy store.
5: Always accepting me for who I am. Fun loving elementary kid, nerdy tween, prude high schooler, searching college student, lost 20 year old, confident 30 year old and new mom – she’s loved me through every stage. And always having the right thing to say at the right time.
My mom always let me know that she was always on my side even when I wasn’t right. Like when I painted my closet white with an outdoor brush. She just thought it was great I wanted to paint my closet. Or when I ripped up all of the carpeting in my room because I wanted to see the hardwood floors underneath. Or when I started to rip off the wallpaper and eagle outlet covers WHILE the movers were moving our things into the house. “Great job, Jess! Can’t wait to put up new wallpaper!”
Or when I had my best friend Jessica call home to say that we had gotten stopped by a very long train and that was why I had missed my curfew. True story – we had gotten stopped by the train. But I still missed curfew and they were still mad. But I at least knew my mom believed me. Dad, I think you believe me now. It’s really true. Ask Wells.
4: Teaching me that life gets better with age. As my mom ages, she gets more beautiful and comfortable in her own skin. She told me several years ago that her 20’s were hard, that her 30’s were better, that she liked her 40’s and that she has really loved her 50’s. She doesn’t feel like she has to impress anyone and she likes who she is. I love that. Now, she didn’t say it proudly or as though she thinks she’s better than anyone else. But she said it as someone who has realized she has worth and that she is deserving of loving and taking care of herself just because she is herself. She makes me really look forward to my 50’s and beyond.
I love when she says she wants to be feisty to the end. I want to be just like her.
3: One of my favorite phone calls was when my mom called to say “So I pulled a Jessica today.” Then I found out that somehow she was sweeping and the broom hit the ground weird, flew up and hit her eye. And she had a black eye. We had a good laugh about that one.
I love that my mom finds my quirks funny. And that she has shown me that life is just so much better when you can laugh at yourself.
Like when you leave yourself a voice message when you were trying to create a new voice mailbox message for others to hear or when you try to pump up a car tire with a bike pump in the driveway. (Thank you Dad for helping me realize that wasn’t a good idea) Life really is so much better when you realize life is not as serious as we make it out to be sometimes.
2: My mom always has a way of looking at my life and my brothers’ lives with total optimism that we can do anything we set our minds to. And then encouraging us to do whatever we think is best for us.
“College in Tennessee? Going to Israel? Ok!”
“You’re engaged to a guy from South Africa and we haven’t ever met him? How romantic!”
“You want to go sky diving. Yikes – I’d never do that, but good for you!”
“What guy in Texas? I think that’s wonderful. You should move down there and go for it!”
“A girl in Rhode Island? Can’t wait to meet her – she sounds wonderful!”
“You want to move to Atlanta for a job change? Again – good for you and go for it if that’s what you choose! Or if you stay here, we’d love that too! But do what you think is best.”
She always told me that I am never trapped in life. That even when things feel out of my control (I mean life is really out of my control and in God’s hands, but sometimes you feel out of control) and you feel as though life won’t ever get better, that you always have choices. You have the choice to choose better things and make changes even when they are hard. That taking risks keeps you from feeling trapped and that you always have options in life. And sometimes the change that comes or the disappointing news is really just God putting you on a different path…
From getting my dream job offer rescinded due to hard economic times to having a fiancé dump me on Christmas Day in South Africa while I’m away from everyone I know to watching all my friends get married before I did to going through difficult career moves to navigating life itself, my mom was always there to reassure me that good things were on the horizon and that I had choices. I was never stuck. I could do anything.
1: Now that I’m a mom, I get to have the chance to love two little girls in a way no one else ever will. And I get to see all the things my mom sees in me. As well as getting to see her be their Grandma and watch her spoil our girls in ways only she can. I love that she loves our family so much and that she still pours into my life and helps me to be the best mom/daughter/person I can be. I love that every day I’m more appreciative of all she did for me as I was growing up. I love that she lives so close. And that she is still and will always be the most amazing mom. Ever. And now she gets to be the most amazing Grandma. Ever. Just ask Riley and Julia.