My mom missed the boat by two days. She was almost a leapday baby. She could be a teenager right now. Tough!
Okay, two days and one year. But still, mom, what kind of example is that? You couldn’t have just gestated a little longer? No wonder I suck at being patient.
Today is her Birthday! Happy Birthday, Mom. I think she’s 29 again. Crap. I’m turning 29 for the first time this year!
I’ve been talking to her a lot over the last couple of weeks about music, and how to encourage the girls love of music and develop their musical abilities, and she’s been giving me great ideas. The girls and I were visiting my parents last week and she said, “You know, I remember that the first music you really got excited about when you were young was Simon and Garfunkel, and I was so tickled because that was the first music I got excited about when I was a girl.”
I don’t remember my mom ever sitting down with me and talking about how much she loved music, but I have known about her love of music for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are of her singing in the car. When a person is passionate about something, it’s impossible for those around them not to know, and my mom’s abiding love for music is responsible for my own passion for music. I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you hate Music Monday, blame my mom.
My mom exists in a weird alternate universe where people are friendly, and do things that they don’t have to do, for others. Actually, she causes this alternate universe to exist. She lets people know, within about forty seconds, that she loves them, and then really weird stuff happens. People give her things, or they give her their time, or they become lifelong friends. They work more hours than they have to, or they give her son discounted psychotherapy. Fortunately (for me), I am immune to this strange power, probably because I was inculcated with the fact of my mother’s love from a young age. It doesn’t seem unusual that she loves me higher than the stars, or deeper than the oceans (to borrow a phrase from my shared vocabulary with Abigail). It feels kind of weird that all of you jerks don’t.
My mom has Mastered psychology, according to the California State University system, and she doesn’t even use it to bend people to her Will. This is one of the main disappointments of my life. This, and her not letting me become fabulously rich, successful and well balanced by being a child actor. You know, like that Macaulay Caulkin kid. Sorry, back to the point. She’s not just really nice, she’s also really smart, and great at what she does. My brains come from her, too.
Any tenacity or determination I have also comes from this woman, who raised a son alone for 10 years while putting herself through college.
She second guesses herself constantly, which is weird because of all of the things I just said, and for a lot of other reasons. Because she loves me and believes in me so much, I don’t second guess myself nearly to the extent that she does. She would say, “I hope I didn’t mess you up and make you doubt yourself!” I would say, the legacy of the person who filled in my blueprint can’t ever be negative, and must be taken on the whole as incredibly positive.
For several years, when I was first married, our relationship was virtually nonexistent. When we talked it was only to fight. I was withholding and a jerk, for a lot of reasons that I didn’t understand until I started doing the work in therapy. We were so distant, and I didn’t realize how much I needed a relationship with her, and my Dad. Through my divorce, they have been incredibly supportive. They’ve let me crash at their house which couldn’t really accommodate a third person, they’ve taken a very active role with their granddaughters, they’ve acted as my parents, and my friends, and my editors, correcting me, challenging me, and supporting me at every turn. My mom has been my sounding board, encouraging me on the hard days, urging me to exhibit the kind of love she embodies through my actions and choices. Always, always telling me that I’m doing a great job as a dad, and always telling me how I might be able to do just a little better.
I think she sometimes thinks this advice isn’t wanted, or needed, but it’s invaluable.
My favorite poem about manhood (Ironic, right? Manhood? Poetry? No…?) is “If” by Rudyard Kipling, and the first paragraph says:
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
There have been times in the last year that I’ve passed this litmus test, and times that I’ve failed. Many of the times that I passed, it was because of my mothers quiet urging, her comfort, and her love. The other times, it was because of my closest friends, who accept me and love me as a matter of course. You know who you are, and I love you.
Romans 8:31b says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” The closest tangible example that I have of someone being “for” me is my mother. I don’t particularly deserve it, I haven’t done anything to earn it and I can’t pay it back, but I’m glad I have her in my life.
I love you Mom. Happy Birthday.