Word to my mother

Lately my life is as follows. Work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep. With watching The Bachelor thrown in when I can. Because I want Brad to choose the vampire lady with fangs. I mean, don’t you?

In other news, it’s my mama’s birthday week. She’s extraordinary. Because why? I’ll tell you why.

1. My mom laughs with abandon. It is only after instances of witnessing my mom’s laugh that I notice how little I really witness people laughing with abandon. She opens her mouth, throws her head back, and loud, infectious laughing rolls out. It’s raucous and musical. I have yet to meet the hard-hearted soul who will not at least crack a smile when she gets going.

2. On a related note, my mom is high-larious. When you meet her she comes off as dignified and sort of elegant. She is well-mannered with a kind face. Underneath that though beats the heart of a 10 year old tomboy. There were times when I was in middle school (the only time in my life when I was slightly surly) and when I would take myself too seriously, she would throw her dinner roll at me across the room with a perfect pitcher’s aim and bop me on the head. And then crack up at my surprise. Which would make me crack up and not take myself so damn serious. That’s just good parenting, when I really think about it.

3. She is also one progressive mutha. She communicated with me about art and politics and history and race and gender and sexuality and class and nationality and all that good stuff since I was a child, and she was a proud voter, and she got me through girlhood with good body image, and she made sure I knew about safe sex, and she encouraged assertiveness, and creativity, and intelligence. I love her for many reasons, but that one ranks right up there at the top.

4. My mom was the key person in my development as a lover of pop culture. She was never judgmental about consuming pop culture, but she was always critically engaged with it. She is the reason I understood that Chrissy and Janet were unnecessarily portrayed as binary opposite models of womanhood- the dumb pretty one and the smart spunky one. And the reason I understood that daytime soap operas during that time were paragons of compulsory heterosexuality. And why I understood that the conflict between Pa Ingalls and Harriet Oleson was a not-so-subtle messed up commentary on patriarchy versus matriarchy. Why did I understand these things? Because she talked about them, sometimes in discussions with me, and other times via my overhearing her yelling at the tv screen. It’s a two-way communication to her. And now, to me too.

5. My mom has style. She has this mod sensibility that I still love to this day. And she loves to dress up. It was sometime when she hit her mid-60s the first time I saw my mom wearing jeans. My mom does not wear jeans, yo. I asked her what was up, and she said that she thought that she might as well give it a try now- she had held out long enough. I have still never seen her in sweatpants, and I don’t think that day is ever coming.

6. When I was growing up, any kids that needed a place to be were welcome at our house, and that’s because of my mom. There were times that she fed some of my friends the only decent meal they were going to get that week. And the only positive adult attention. I had friends that would come to my house even when I wasn’t there, just to hang out with my folks. She still remembers all of them, and remembers what their favorite dishes were.

7. I have always loved my mom’s hands. They look sturdy and able and no nonsense. I have always hoped that my hands look like hers, but I can’t see it yet. My hands still have nonsense.

8. She has always treated me like I am strong and capable, no question. She has nothing to say to me other than YOU CAN DO IT! And if mom thinks I can, I can. At least that’s what I feel when I talk to her.

I wish you all knew my mom, you guys. I hope I grow up to be like her someday.

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