I have found that, for the most part, birthdays are very important to mothers. Just not usually our own. We celebrate the birth of our children because their entry into this world marks a significant change in our own lives. We celebrate that change yearly, if not daily!
Today is my mother’s birthday and that means something slightly different to me. When I think of her birthday I think of the beginning of the journey of the woman who raised me. Somehow she was born to usher myself and my siblings through our lives in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Or, at least, that is my perspective.
My mother’s birthday is a chance to celebrate her for who she is and what she has given me along the way. I may not see her or even speak to her today, but I will be thinking of her. She is strong, insightful, thoughtful, surprising, caring, intelligent, witty, worldly, loyal and sensible. Surprising might be my favorite. At first glance she may seem quiet next to my over-bearing father. But if someone crosses her….watch out! The strength comes out in full, visible force.
I am in awe of her ability to assess and make decisions that are unpopular in their time, but turn out to the envied over time. When we were younger she would not allow my sister, brother or me to swim with our friends in the Housatonic River which flowed at the end of our street. The incredibly high pollution levels were made public years later after many cancer related deaths. She was clear, that she believed ‘the big company’ was polluting the waters and never wavered in her decision, even under pressure from the other neighborhood mothers.
As we got older she did her best to keep me safe and teach me how to make good decisions as I careened through my teens and my twenties. I am so grateful she was there when I came out the other side of that mess! And grateful my children, thus far, have not followed in my footsteps. None of us needs that kind of payback.
She reminds me of the good and poor decisions we have made over time. Always ready to laugh rather than cry at the missteps along the way. She has been a tremendous role model in the risk taking department. Again, on the surprising front. Despite taking very little risk in her family life, she has had no problem socializing with heads of state or illegal immigrants. She has been known to offer either assistance or a word of criticism if she felt it was warranted.
She has never believed in ‘limits’. Where many people have scoffed at my entrepreneurial ways, my mother has approached this with curiosity and support. Pragmatism may be the best description. Something I really hope I have learned from her.
In my crazy life I really don’t get to see my mother as often as I would like. I am finishing this blog the day after her birthday. So maybe I will fly in a day early this month for my business meetings and take some time to celebrate with my mother. Happy Birthday Mom!