My birthday is this week. I think it’s weird that we are the ones who get celebrated on our birthdays, when our mothers did all the work. Not only that, but on the anniversary of the day she risked her life to bring us into the world we’re like- “Hey you- make me a cake!”
I got to spend the day with my mom yesterday. This woman does not get enough credit. Not that any mother’s do. It’s impossible to compete with the whole “you brought us into this world” thing. We try as children with our little homemade cards and macaroni necklaces. We try as adults by telling them they were right.
But my mom is amazing:
-She has two degrees.
-She started teaching special education in the 1970s, when teaching special ed was barely a thing.
-When she was 40 she had four kids and my father was working is Saudi Arabia at the time. Which had to have been hard for him. My dad can barely stand the thought of leaving the dogs at the kennel for the weekend, so I can’t imagine what it must have been like for him to be in the Middle East away from his young kids. But my mom was there dealing with us alone. And she didn’t murder any of us. How great is that! She could have too. This was the 80s, there were no laws.
-She stayed at home to raise us, and by doing was able to help with other kids in the neighborhood.
-She drug us to church every Sunday. We walked in late almost every morning, but she walked us in there. Because of that when I quit drinking and started searching for something in my life I knew where to go.
-When we were in school my mom would pack us all lunches. Sandwiches. Chips. Sodas wrapped in tin foil. And she would write little love poems to us on our napkins.
-When we leave home she walks out to the field to wave good bye to us one last time.
-For the past five years she kept two households running- ours and my grandmother’s.
And whatever we need, she is there. Her and my dad helped us move out over the weekend and yesterday, while Jaimie continued to unpack, Mom and I went back to Atlanta to retrieve the rest of our stuff.
She was wrapping, packing, carrying… all while pushing 70.
My mom takes packing personally because she hates throwing things away. She was outside arranging things in her Chrysler mini van like she was playing a game of Tetris. There were two patio chairs that just couldn’t make it. We tease my mom that she has a thing for underdogs, and I think she sees furniture we leave behind as orphans. It’s her version of Sophie’s Choice:
Mom: If we had only loved those chairs enough to find a place for them.
Me: Leave them! Let them go!
Mom: But they’re a part of our family!
Me: They’re patio chairs I bought from Kroger!
Mom: But they’re ours!
Me: They were 20 bucks!
Mom: 20 bucks?? We’re definitely not leaving them now!
On the drive back we were both exhausted. We had a lovely conversation. We chatted about religion, meditation, being sober. We talked about our family, her time living in Atlanta. We talked about the death of her mother and what it’s like to now own our family’s farm house. We talked about cancer and my treatment.
“The fact that I have cancer is just so weird,” I said in the darkness, as we drove up highway 85.
“Yeah, it is weird,” she replied.
I appreciated the response. I prefer to think of cancer as weird, or odd, as opposed to scary and life threatening.
My family has been so great through this whole process. My aunts and uncles send me notes and cards and checks. My sisters send me bone broth and ideas for juices. Jaimie has become an expert on the medicines and their side effects. My dad has bought me groceries when I needed them and made sure that I have everything I need.
And my mom has been my mom. Strong when she needs to be. Quiet when she needs to be. Packing cars when she needs to be.
And this weekend, on the anniversary of the day she risked her life to bring me into the world, she’ll find time to make me a cake.
How amazing is that.