My mother was the default parent, as unflattering as that may sound, I mean it as a compliment. When we had questions about where we could go and what we could do, we would go to my mother. When I stupidly ran into a goal post during a soccer game she wasn’t at, my father took me home to my mother first, and then my mother took me to the hospital. Whenever I had something big, like my driver’s test, she took me. She took me to get my braces on, and bought me gum when I insisted they didn’t hurt an hour later. She took me to get my braces off as well. We all knew her authority and how she balanced that with a kind heart.
She put up with a lot too. Most recently, when I brought a dog home without permission, and my dad yelled at me to take it to the pound, my mom convinced him to let us try it for a while. Never mind my mother thought she had bought me only a few days, and her slight horror when my dad fell in love with the dog and kept it even after I moved out. My mother is good like that, calming waters. It’s not that she will agree with everything you say, it is that she’ll try to understand where you are coming from.
My mother is strong. I know, a cliché thing to say. No, it isn’t because she raised seven kids on her own during a depression with no job. It’s because when I was sick with constant headaches, she took me to every doctor she could find. When my sister needed help and rehab, and even before that when my sister needed a single thread to keep her tied to the family, my mother was there. She gladly talked to my sister who had all but burned her bridges. She found ways to help her when the rest of us had given up. I honestly think that is why we still have that sister. She is strong because she turned to religion even when her family wasn’t supportive of it, as well as married my father, another thing that at the time her family wasn’t thrilled about. She is strong because she helped my youngest sister achieve her dreams, even if they weren’t dreams she was excited for. She is strong because she raised three rambunctious girls. She is strong because despite her tendency to faint at blood, she sat with me through every blood draw, doctor’s appointment, and minor surgery I’ve ever had. She’s strong because she let me leave her care for 18 months and when I came back early and sick, she embraced me. She is probably stronger than I will ever know.
My mother is the reason I write. Maybe not the sole reason, but you can’t deny the way she read with me when I was young. Perhaps I had a love of books earlier, but really I attribute it to my Third Grade school year. My mother sat down, and read Harry Potter with me, at least the first couple books, before I could no longer wait for more of the story and took the books nearly as big as I was to school with me, where I read them during recess to the dismay of my friend. That love of reading became a love of writing and if I succeed in my chosen field it will be because she loved books enough to share them with me.
I can’t capture her the way I want, I suppose. Not in this anyway. It would have to be a novel describing everything about her, every memory I have of her. Maybe I’ll write it someday. But right now, it’s important to me that you know how awesome she is. She is a black belt in karate, rides a snowboard and a mountain bike, cooks the yummiest meals, reads like crazy, will beat you at most card games, took my engagement photos, slays at her job, and raised three young women who dare to be the people she made us. My mom will eat other moms for breakfast, but she’ll do it nicely, feel bad about it later, and make sure it doesn’t contaminate any of her other food.