In honor of Mother’s Day, let me tell you a few things about my mother:
She is brave.
She stood up on a stage and told a roomful of strangers one of the hardest stories of her life: suffering a brain injury that ended her teaching career. She speaks at funerals. She stands by her friends when they are sick or suffering. She put an Obama sign in her yard, even though all her neighbors are passionate Republicans.
She never lets her obstacles define her.
My mom could easily have given up by now, and decided to spend the rest of her life lying on the couch, doing nothing. She has a chronic heart problem. She still deals with the effects of her brain injury. She has endured medical traumas too awful to describe. She has also suffered more emotional blows than should be allowed for a single human being. And yet…
She lives with gusto.
Since she retired, my mom has learned to play the piano. She has made countless beautiful objects with her hands, including the quilts that my family sleeps under. (In fact, I’m pretty sure she’s learned, and bought the supplies for, every craft ever invented.) She started an ambitious book club. She joined a writing circle and had one of her essays published in a book. She completed several 5Ks, some of them shortly after going through medical crises. She became a regular storyteller (and winner) at Story Slam. She tutors kids, hosts parties for her neighborhood, volunteers, and works with a personal trainer at the Y every week. She is always making new friends.
She doesn’t let anyone steal her spark.
My mom was born a rebel, in a family where rebelliousness was not considered a positive character trait. All her life, she has dealt with people who have told her she isn’t good enough, that she is wrong and broken, and she has refused to believe them. She has continued to be her funny, irreverent, generous, loving, unguarded self.
She gave me the gifts she never received.
To pass down the gifts you are given is commendable. To pass down the gifts you desperately wished for, but never received from your own parents, is heroic. That is what my mom has done for me. Her love is unconditional, in the truest sense of the word. She tells me she is proud of me (and I think she really means it). She is unfailingly generous, with no strings attached. She gives me the freedom to live my own life, without the weight of parental guilt or disappointment. She supports me in my choices, even when they aren’t the ones she would have made. It’s my mom’s fault I’ll never be a great writer. I don’t have enough childhood trauma to mine for material.
If you need more proof that my mom is badass, watch her tell her own story: