As a kid, I used to always tell my Mom that I was never going to move away from her. “I’m going to live with you forever,” I would say.
And, deep down, I think there is a small part of her that wishes I was still under her roof. Despite the fact that, like most kids, I was the worst possible roommate. Never cleaning anything up or paying my share of the utilities. Constantly asking for money or favors. And feigning illness to get out of all manner of things.
Part of the irony of being a mom is that your kids don’t truly appreciate everything you did until they are on their own, or off starting their own families. When they are sitting up with you when you get sick at two in the morning or driving you and your friends to the movies, you just think that is part of her job description.
Unlike the moms of the June Cleaver era before me, my Mom worked for most of my childhood. But while she might not have been there in pearls, with a big piece of chocolate cake waiting for me when I got home from school, she devoted all of her time off to me and my brother and sister.
Den mother, field trip chaperone, and unpaid sales rep for every calendar, raffle ticket and piece of candy that was pushed on me by my school. My Mom held all of those positions and never complained once.
My Mom and Dad worked very hard to make sure that we were always taken care of. We may not have always got what we wanted, but we always had what we needed. (And usually most of what we wanted) There was not a Christmas that went by that my Mom did not elbow her way through an angry mob of moms (the worst kind) at 7 a.m. to make sure that we had that season’s big toy. And despite an incident in which I may or may not have kicked the Christmas tree and verbally berated Santa, I now see that the Bat-cycle is just as good as the Batmobile.
There was also never a summer in which she didn’t plan a road trip in whatever non-air conditioned vehicle we were driving in at the time. From Disney World to the Tommy Bartlett Water Show in the Wisconsin Dells, I have seen it all. And you have not really lived until you have seen a water ski show and water-cannon “Tribute to the Music of Elvis” while wearing a heavy fall jacket.
My Mom is one of the kindest and sweetest people I have ever known and has always let me know how proud she is of me. She has believed in me even when I haven’t given her much reason to do so. As a “doesn’t live up to his potential” student, my Mom has sat through her share of parent/teacher meetings. And even when Sister Christian (who was not nearly as cool or rockin’ as the Night Ranger song of the same name) let her have it in particularly brutal evaluation of me, she still knew that I could do better.
While my Mom is sweet and a little innocent (so innocent that she only realized what the “doobie” in The Doobie Brothers meant about 5 years ago) she is also capable of giving a look that can stop you in your tracks and chill you to the bone. While it was mostly utilized for putting an end to horseplay, I believe that it’s use was briefly considered for putting an end to the Iran Hostage Crisis in the late seventies.
As I get older, it is hard to imagine that I was that little kid in the picture above. But I know that there is someone out there, for whom I will always be her “little” boy. And in a world that gets a little crazy sometimes, I could not dream of a more comforting feeling.
I know that I can always count on my Mom, and someday I hope that I can follow her parental lead. (I need to start working on my “look”)
So, while I may not be able to live at home with her forever, I hope she knows that I will never be too far away.
Happy birthday Mom. I love you.