I started to write a post about my mom for her birthday, but I didn’t really know where to begin. So this post is made up of some of my best memories or what comes to mind first when I think of my amazing mother. Happy birthday, mom!
Recently, my mom and my sisters and I got together for a Girls’ Night, where we talk and play games and eat ridiculous amounts of junk food. This time, there were five of us and we played Telephone Pictionary, a favorite game of the Big 5. Basically, you think of a word or phrase or movie title and write it down on the top sheet of a stack of small papers. Once everyone is ready, you pass your stack to the person next to you who has to read your word or phrase, put it on the bottom of the stack, and then draw a picture of it on the next sheet of paper. The person who gets the stack next time has to look at the drawing and then write what they see (without looking back at what the first person wrote). You keep going, alternating between drawing and writing, until your stack makes it around the circle and back to you. Then you read them all aloud and find out what crazy, hilarious thing came out of your word or phrase.
My mom has very little confidence in her drawing abilities, but that makes this game all the more fun, especially when she’s asked to draw something complicated. That picture at the top is Jurassic Park. Needless to say, we laughed a lot. My mom has a very contagious laugh, the kind that makes you laugh, which makes her laugh harder, which makes you laugh harder. Because she struggles artistically, she’s already laughing while she’s drawing, so you just can’t wait to see what’s on her paper. Laughing is definitely something that has always been a part of our family. Both my parents are wacky in their own ways, so all of us kids also have very silly senses of humor.
Growing up, my mom was– and still is, in fact– a bus driver. That might not sound glamorous or exciting, and she’d be the first one to tell you that often, it definitely isn’t. But there were some great things about it too, like the fact that when we were off from school, she was off from work.
I remember so many summer days where my younger sister and I would beg my mom to vacuum the pool so we could go swimming. Sometimes she’d sit on the desk with her feet in the water and watch us, but many times she’d go inside and watch from the windows in the kitchen or dining room while she did dishes or called a friend.
Every so often, after dinner with the sunlight fading, she’d say to us, let’s go swimming now! And when you’re a kid and you get to go swimming at night, when it’s getting dark, that’s a good summer day.
Inevitably, we’d end up making a whirlpool in our octagon-shaped above-ground pool. My mom loved making whirlpools. I can still picture all of us, running around and around in the water, trying to force it all in one direction. We’d get tired and grab my mom’s shoulders and let her drag us around a few laps. Eventually she’d tell us that it was ready and we’d all turn around and try to swim back to other way.
Tell my mom that girls can’t do something boys can do and see what happens. Go ahead. I dare you.
My mom has four daughters and I don’t think any of us ever thought for a second that being a girl made us less-than in any way. How could we? My mom has that I’ll-prove-you-wrong attitude that takes assumptions about boys and girls and says, watch this. She’s raised five children, raced cars, saved people’s lives as an EMT, kept kids safe on the school bus for thirty years, volunteered for Girl Scouts, Autism Speaks, our local fire department, the school board, and so much more. She participates. She gets involved. She’s a part of the community, and the community knows it. She taught us to be strong. She told us we could do anything. She expected a lot from us, but also was there for us when anything went wrong.
Many of my memories with my mom have to do with Girl Scouts. She helped lead my small troop and we did a lot of things, including a lot of camping trips. Over the years, we crammed four people in a two-person tent, slept in covered wagons, hiked and backpacked, made s’mores, cooked in cardboard boxes, Dutch ovens, and over an open fire. We rafted down the Delaware River and lost Jen around the support of a bridge when she went one way and we went the other way, snapping the rope that was tying her tube to our raft, a look of panic spread across her face as she emerged on the other side. We sat our on the steps of our lean-to at three in the morning in the middle of winter, drinking ice water because we’d stoked the wood stove so much that we were all overheating. Doing all these things with my mom definitely made us closer. We learned together and had fun together and made lots and lots of memories.
Mom, thanks for all the memories and all the laughs. Thanks for teaching me to be kind and care for others. Thanks for volunteering and being involved in our lives. Thanks for years of laundry and dinners, school clothes shopping and 1 a.m. school projects. Thanks for pushing me to do my best and keep trying and always believing I could do anything. Thanks for bringing our family together for holidays and birthdays and special occasions. I hope you know how important you are and how much the five of us love you and need you. Happy birthday!