Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mama.

Today is my mama's birthday. I'm not going to reveal how old she is, though she probably wouldn't care. My mother has never seemed to be limited by her age.

And yes, I've always called her Mama. At least until I got older and started calling her Mom, and occasionally mother, if i was irritated or dismissive, which I often was during my college days. I kind of miss calling her Mama, though she probably doesn't. There were times when we were growing up when she would say "Don't call me Mama anymore today. Just call me Harry." And we would. For about a day. After that we could go back to calling her mama. Can we all get an amen for that idea? I can so relate.

I had to do a post about her because there is no other individual on earth -- other than my children who came along a good while after my "formative years" -- who has helped make me the person that I am today.

I've mentioned here before that my mom was a single mother. And we were always close, except for that brief, angry "I know better than you" period in late high school and early college, for which I now formally apologize. As a mother myself I realize now how difficult things must have been for her at times and I can now appreciate the sacrifices that she made for me and my brother. Becoming a mother, and especially being a mother to a daughter, I can now fully appreciate all the hopes and dreams she had for me.

But today, today I'm going to list all the things that were and are awesome about my mother:

My mother never made me feel like anything was more important than I was. Not in the "the world centers around me," kids-are-the-center-the-universe kind of thinking that seems to prevail today, but she enjoyed spending time with us. The housework could wait. A picnic could not.

My mom put together some fantastic birthday parties for me as a child and made really original, amazing cakes. Over the years she rented a truck and took us all to a state park for a hayride and cookout, rented a bus and took me and all my friends to the skating rink, she took us to the zoo, she took us all camping, and hosted uncounted sleepovers at my house.

My mom is reader and she read to us a lot. She also read to my friends. At all of my sleepovers my friends would request that she read the same two stories every year. Her stories were probably what they looked forward to most.

My mother gave me the gift of music. Growing up there was always music playing in our house. Some of my best memories are of staying up late on Friday and Saturday nights, sitting in the kitchen while my mom washed dishes, listening to Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens and Simon & Garfunkel. She plays the piano and also plays the ukulele, which I think is so fun. At a church talent show in the late 70s, she played the ukulele while she, my brother, and I sang Ghost Riders in the Sky. She also taught me the song about the fox, one of my favorites as a child and which I in turn have taught my children (to my occasional chagrin after they have requested that I repeat it for the gazillionth time!).

My mother is not afraid to try new things. At the age of 37 (the age her mother was when she died) she took up running. She won a 5k race in her age group a couple of months later. She took bellydancing for a while. More recently she took up the shot put and has medaled at several different senior competitions. She was also recently featured in a local women's magazine about women and sport. I've saved the magazine because I want Bubba and Punkin to see it when they're older and appreciate the kind of woman their MeMe is.

In short, I think my mom is pretty cool.

Recently my mother told me that she thought I was a good mother, which I appreciated beyond words. What she doesn't realize, though, is that I'm simply trying to be like her.


All Adither said...

What a wonderful tribute. Your mom will love reading this.

Angie (from

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Tootsie Farklepants said...

This is so sweet! Happy Birthday to your Mama.

I also call mine Mama, and when I'm upset with her, "Mother". And she called her mom Mama. My grandmother and ancestors were from the south so maybe it's a southern thing?

And Girl-Child called me MeMe up until about a year ago. Boy-Child#1 adopted it and still refers to me that way.

Karen said...

Happy Birthday, Mama! That was a wonderful tribute to her. (Can I use tribute in that sentence? It sounds as though she's passed on.)

I think you're following your mama's footsteps very well.

Anonymous said...

Isn't that wonderful when you mother gives you praise as a parent!? I hope she appreciates imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Queen Mother said...

Hey...the blog...the 21st century equivalent of a paper airplane sailing into the room.

Happy Birthday to me!!!!What a wonderful "birthday card" from a wonderful daughter.

I love you.

1blueshi1 said...

Wow. What a great post. Your mom sounds AMAZING. You and your kids are lucky to have her!

ImpostorMom said...

So very sweet and it makes me want to give my mama a big ole hug. Happy Birthday to your Mama and I hope she had a great one!

Anonymous said...

I love my Mom very much (a dear friend and conselor) but call her Mom (as opposed to "mommy" which is what I used as a child). I still however call my Dad "Daddy" and suppose I will for the rest of my life. Some Yankees don't get it and raise an eyebrow when they hear it, but this Southern Gal can't help it - he's my Daddy and that's all there is to it!

Colleen said...

You totally made me cry! That was so sweet.

'scuse me while I go find some tissue....