I’ve been thinking lately about the people and places that formed me. Sort of serious stuff, I know, but the kind of thing that increasingly runs through your mind as your years increase.
I’ve reflected on my form and function and arrived at a single conclusion: I am who I am because of my mom.
There are enough lessons and memories to fill a book, but several stand out:
Mom taught me not to sweat the small stuff – My mother is living proof of the importance of not worrying about the little things. Like the time my fifth grade teacher called to tell her I’d done something really, really bad on the playground.
“What was it?” she asked.
“He kissed a girl,” the teacher replied.
“Oh,” she said, relieved. “I thought you said he did something bad.”
She went on to tell the teacher that, though kissing a girl on the playground was against the rules, it was a sign I was a normally developing fifth grade boy. And I think I turned out okay.
Mom taught me to be thick-skinned – Of the many examples, I most recall her patient witnessing of the reenactment of a harmless fall she took one summer evening as we stepped out of the car and onto the driveway. It wasn’t her fall off the uneven pavement and onto the grass that my buddy and I remembered or reenacted; her sound effects are what tickled us.
“Oh … oh … oh …,” she uttered as she fell, a serious cry that belied her soft landing. She pulled herself up, brushed herself off and – after confirming she was fine – witnessed the first of my buddy’s and my many reenactments.
It didn’t dawn on me until years later that our replayings of the fall and sound effects over the years could have hurt her feelings. But she always grinned and took it (safely) in stride.
Thanks, mom. Oh, and sorry.
Mom taught me to use the resources at my disposal effectively and efficiently – Those who know my mother know creativity marks all she does. She and a neighbor co-founded a preschool for children with special needs in my dad’s vacant veterinary hospital building with attic furniture and garage sale tableware – a school that went on to become a model for special education in the region. On the home front, her family dinners and holiday parties rival Martha Stewart’s.
What you may not know is that mom sets a mean trap. When buddies spent the night, our last request before hitting the hay was that she surprise us the next morning with a trap. Imagining ourselves in action-packed scenes of Scooby Doo and The Roadrunner, we’d awake not knowing what combination of rigged blankets, balls and bundling twine we’d encounter.
Life is funny. As the horizon between experience and memory lengthens, its lessons become more vivid.
My mental scrapbook is chock-full of snapshots that stand as emblems of our strong family and fun times together. Though their color is beginning to fade, their lessons are sharper than ever.
As I’ve flipped through the scrapbook recently, one thing has become clear: For me – a father, husband and professional fundraiser – my mom was ready made. I can’t imagine a better mother.
Happy Mother’s Day, mom.
Oh, and be careful on the driveway.
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