Today is my mother's birthday. She turns 54. I know, I have a very young mother. She was just 18 when I was born. (Most of my peers growing up in NW Vermont had young parents, unless they were the youngest kid. Not many people of their generation went to college, so families were started young.)
I've never had a fight with my mom. Which is funny because she and my two sisters have many arguments. I guess I could always see why she was making the points she made. Of course, I was a ridiculous goody-two shoes who strived to not embarass her parents.
My mom's one of the strongest women I know. She had a baby senior year of high school that she placed for adoption and still graduated on time. She held us together through some hard times financially and while my sister went through some severe health problems as a kid. When her mom was dying of colon cancer, mom was at the hospital or nursing home everyday doing whatever she could to help her mom have some comfort and dignity. Her dad's stayed with her after both of his hip surgeries. She does it all without complaint or resentment. Sometimes, I think she thrives on crisis.
Nearly every Saturday I've known her she's driven the 40 minutes back to her home town to visit her sister and father (when they're not travelling).
Mom recently started a new job. She'd been working for the same company for at least 25 years. That tells me two things, she's not afraid of making a change and she was smart enough to get out before they close the doors at her old place.
Mom loves kids. Especially pre-school and younger. I remember baking with her when I was a kid (mmmm, moon pies) and her getting on the floor and tickling us.
I also remember the ways she tried to push us to be independent and self-reliant. In some ways it felt like she was shutting me out. Until the women she worked with told me how much she missed me when I went away to college and how excited she'd get when I'd come home for a visit.
Mom never lets you know when something has hurt her or is too much for her. She can also seem aloof and reserved. She tended to yell a lot and had her share of banging moments.
I am the woman I am because of my mom. Warts and all. But, I know I wouldn't have gone to France on a three-week exchange program in High School, chosen a college six hours away from home, spent a semeseter abroad in England, or moved to NYC/NJ to find a job and love without her.
Happy Birthday Mom.
I sure hope she likes her Freya.