May 1, 2011

On (The Day After) Her Birthday: 20 Reasons My Mom is Ultra Fabulous

T and I have a running joke with my mom.

Every April 30, we tell her, “It’s a very special day today!” and when she laughs and gives us a little embarrassed smile, we say, “That’s right! It’s Murray’s birthday! YAY!!”

This usually earns us an eyeroll and a smack.

Well, it IS Murray’s birthday. (My baby is 8! How did this happen? And how did he get so fat?!)

But, more importantly, today is yesterday was my mama’s birthday. (We were traveling and didn't have Internet service yesterday... It still counts!)

Back in January, I wrote a post about how ridiculously awesome my dad is. (The answer: RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME.) I just want to make it clear: This post is not just so the two of them can be even-stevens on the daughter love. The below list of reasons why my mom is so completely fabulous is simply because she IS THAT FABULOUS. And if you don’t believe me, you’ve clearly never met my mother.

  1. She’s gorgeous. She has big, dark eyes, naturally wavy hair, an amazing smile. My entire life, people have either assumed she was my younger sister, or, at the very least, insisted there’s NO WAY she could possibly have a child my age. And since she had me when she was 28, not 14, that’s saying something. The woman is beautiful. And the best part is: She has no idea.
  2. She never knows the words to songs but she always sings along. “Then I saw her face! Now I’m a believer, I couldn’t dum dum dah-dah TRIED! Na-na-na-na face! Na-na-na believer!” (Oh, Mom – you know I speak the truth.)
  3. She has passion. You know that part of the Bible about God wanting you to be hot or cold, but never lukewarm? My mother has got this NAILED. She holds tightly to her beliefs, whether they’re related to her faith or her fervent desire for James Durbin to win American Idol. (“He has overcome SO MUCH, Shannon!” “I know, Mom.”) For those of us with her in our corner, this is supremely reassuring. It’s also one of the things I admire most about her.
  4. She loves Steven Tyler. She sees past the ridiculous hair and hobo-chic clothing and thinly-veiled pickup lines and sees the REAL Steven. “I don’t know why, I just really like him!” I don’t know either, Mom, but it is awesome.
  5. She has the best laugh, ever. EVER. She is the only person I know who can make me laugh until I cry without even saying anything remotely funny. We will catch each other’s eye and start laughing just because, then forget why we’re laughing and start laughing at each other laughing, until we’re both puddles of tears and goo and mascara, and my father and T are left looking at each other, bewildered. We can’t explain it. And we certainly can’t control it. Nor would we ever want to.
  6. She is the consummate compassionate nurse. Before she retired a few years ago, she spent the majority of her nursing career caring for the elderly in nursing and retirement homes. I’ve had the privilege of seeing her in action, and the way she listens and offers a gentle touch and reassurance is, frankly, humbling. I told her a story recently about a nurse who, as I was having a semi-painful procedure done, simply reached out and touched my shoulder. It brought tears to her eyes. “That’s exactly what I’ve tried to do,” she said. “That’s what nursing is all about.” If only there were more nurses out there like my mom, eh?
  7. She cries at the drop of a hat. Good stuff, bad stuff and everything in between – my mom is an emotional gal. And, guess what? I’m exactly the same way. Together, we will buy stock in waterproof eye makeup and Kleenex. And then we will rule the world! Right after we stop crying.
  8. She makes the world’s best lasagna. Maybe you think YOUR mother makes the best lasagna. You are wrong. Homemade, from-scratch sauce, NO ricotta cheese (yecchhh), heavy on the mozzarella. Mmmmmm…
  9. She still thinks my father is cute. I mean, how adorable is that? I will be laughing at something my dad said/did/wore, and she’ll laugh fondly and say, “Isn’t he cute? He’s cute. Definitely cute.” It’s totally cute.
  10. She is a Nana with a capital “N.” Since the moment my niece was born, my mother has been RIGHT there, soaking up each and every moment of her new Nana role. True, I think she’d encase Cadence in head-to-toe foam rubber if she thought my brother would let her (she’s a weeeee bit overprotective). But the role fits her like a glove. She was just always meant to be a Nana.
  11. She is feisty and fiercely independent. She always wanted a career and went after what was important to her. After taking a break to be home with us for awhile, she fulfilled her dream of owning her own gift shop and then went on to finish her career as a highly-respected nurse. More than anyone else in my life, she has always instilled in me that I can do anything, and I don’t need to depend on anyone else to take care of me.
  12. She thinks the word “fart” is vulgar. There’s something so great about still being able to shock your mother when you’re 33 and a little gassy.
  13. She knows what she wants, and what she doesn’t want. My mother is not your crafty, let’s-bake-some-bread kind of mother, and she makes no apologies for this. She’ll never let herself be guilted into doing something she doesn’t want to do. She’ll smile, laugh, then say, “Nope. I don’t want to. Not doing it.” End of discussion. There’s something so great about that.
  14. She’s an amazing friend. She either read the book or saw the movie Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and began calling her group of girlfriends her “Ya-Yas.” This group of women, all in their late 50s and early 60s, go out to dinner, have sleepovers, help each other through unimaginable heartache and are right there when one of them needs a hand. When one of their number was recently laid up with a chronic illness, my mother and her fellow Ya-Yas stormed her house and just hung out in her bedroom, telling stories, playing with her dogs and giving line dancing demonstrations. (No, really.) I have my own set of Ya-Yas, and I love – LOVE – that this is something we have in common.
  15. She is still my biggest cheerleader. When I was growing up, she came to every volleyball game and then, when I came to my senses and realized an athlete was precisely what I was NOT, she came to every play and every concert. When I was asked to speak at my alma mater recently, she squealed and then said excitedly, “Can we come watch you?”
  16. She is trustworthy. For starters, she’s the only person in the entire world I would trust to pick out clothes for me, even though our styles are quite different. And while she loves a good dish session, she is a locked vault if you ask her to keep a secret.
  17. She can laugh at herself. A few weeks ago she told me about an article she read that said by the time you turn 35, you’re already as much like your mother as you ever will be. “So you have two more years to go,” she said, eyes twinkling. “What do you think it’s going to be next? Haha!”
  18. She loves the Cleveland Indians. About 20 years ago, after previously showing very little interest in sports, period, she suddenly developed a fierce and undying passion and loyalty for the baseball team. I’d come home from school and the game would be on TV in the family room and on the radio in every other room in the house so she could go from room to room without missing a play. She jumped at the chance to get season tickets a few years ago and, although she’s generous with them when others want to see a game, she’ll also make the 1 ½ hour trip to Cleveland by herself multiple times a week, just because “It’s fun, and I like it.”
  19. She’s loud. Ask T: She has an uncanny knack for making my phone-voice volume raise about 10,000 decibels whenever she calls. Sometimes we just yell things for no reason, because it makes us laugh. I love it.
  20. She will never, ever stop being my mommy. I'm 33, and she still worries. When I told her about a recent harrowing tale of traveling for work, she said, “Oh, I wish I could have known so I could’ve prayed for you! But I’m kind of glad I didn’t know, so I didn’t have to worry, either.”

She calls me for no reason other than to ask how things are, and to talk about American Idol.

She gives the best, tightest hugs that make me feel so very safe and loved.

She takes out stitches and gives medical advice at midnight and cries with me and laughs with me and tells me “You can do it!”

Mom, you know you’re fabulous. But I don’t know if you know just HOW fabulous you are. And somehow, that makes me love you even more.

Happy birthday! Oooh, I love you!

3 backtalk:

Ky • said...

Oh, this Just like your Mom.

I loved reading every bit of it.

Anonymous said...

Ummmmm....excuse me...but Im a YaYa and Im in my EARLY 50's! :) ....but you sure got everything else right. Your mom is awesome!
Mary Beth

Written Permission said...

Mary Beth, I'm so sorry -- I forget you are the baby of the group! :) I would never age you intentionally... haha

I'm so glad my mom has you and Marcia and all the other Ya-Yas!

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