Friday, December 7, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Tomorrow is Mom's birthday. But since I won't have Internet tomorrow, I thought I'd do my blog about her now. Since I've done blogs for my husband and siblings this year on their birthdays, it only seems right to do one about Mom. I can only hope that I won't embarrass her (again--although she's kind of used to it by now). Here are some fun facts about Mom.

  • She's awesome. She's my favorite mom ever. I don't care how great you think your mom is. Really, I do not care at all. I've gotten pretty attached to Mom over the years, and I think she's the best. Being unbiased is for people who secretly don't like their moms.
  • She likes kids. You're probably thinking this is pretty apparent. She did have 4 kids, after all. But she likes her 4 kids, her two sons-in law, her nieces and nephews, her great-nieces and nephews, and the other kids in her life that she kind of regards as her own. The long and distinguished list includes (but is not limited to): the Greens, Charlie, Dallas, Lee and Erin, half of the people who have sat in the youth group section of our church since 1988, and anyone we love who has ever had a baby. This is phenomenal to me because I'm not the biggest people person, period, so liking children just because they're children seems like it wouldn't be that much fun. But, as someone who homeschooled 4 kids (with the occasional extra child), taught countless Sunday school classes and co-ops, and babysat probably 100 kids, Mom has taught me how to really enjoy kids. You don't always find people who enjoy kids. Of course she likes holding babies--most people do. But how common is it to find someone who will meet a two-year old and instantly start trying to teach colors and shapes with such obvious enjoyment? Judging by the morons I've seen talking baby-talk to toddlers, it's apparently very rare. So, yay for Mom and the way she treats kids like actual people. It's nice to feel like you're being taken seriously.
  • She's one of the people who influenced me to love books as much as I do. This is a big one because I love books a lot. Both of my parents are pretty big readers of anything--novels, biographies, trade magazines, cattle auction catalogues, instruction manuals (before they mess with the appliance!), newspapers, etc. , because when you read things, you wind up knowing stuff. Which is why I read U.S. News & World Reports from the time I was 9 or so just because it was around the house. My sister Laine also loves reading due to our good influences. Our two younger siblings aren't the biggest readers, but they keep up on current events and are at least kind enough to not mock nerds like the rest of us who love books maybe a little too much.
  • She has better legs than I do. I don't know how this fits in with anything, but you have to admit it's pretty noteworthy. That's not why I wore a really long dress on my wedding day while she had a skirt just below the knee, but I'm glad of that fact now that I look back on it.
  • She's an excellent markswoman. Really excellent. There are some funny stories about this, but she doesn't seem to like it that much when we tell them, so I won't. (At least, I won't while it's her birthday.)
  • She's a big talker. This might not something you necessarily enjoy when all you want to do is doze off while watching TV, but we're probably better people for it. Since Mom knows lots of things (because she reads), she thinks it's important to share the knowledge. As a result, I'm much closer to my never-ending quest to be a know-it-all. There have been lots of situations where a friend has wondered about something out loud, and we knew the answer. Why did we know that about mulch, radiation, or the importance of good posture? We're not sure, but think we heard it somewhere.....
  • One more thing about the talking: she's pretty much queen of tangents. I know people who get lost in their own backstories and require endless prompting and reminders of what they were talking about. Not Mom. She knows where and when and how to pull it back together. I'm reading Tristam Shandy right now, and supposedly it's a big deal because of the narrator's stream-of-consciousness style (I'm to Chapter 19 right now and he still hasn't gotten around to telling us about the time he was born like he said he would in the first few sentences.). He's got nothing on my mother, poor chump.
  • She knows a lot about plants. A whole lot. Growing and drying herbs. Pruning rose bushes. Which plants attract bees and which plants repel ants. Why mulching isn't really that big of a deal. She could tell you about this and more. She has books about all kinds of plant stuff. She would love to tell you about. Ask her sometime. She made me love gardening. She's made lots of people like gardening.
  • She raised us to be individuals and then actually let us be individuals. There are a lot of parents who will tell their kids to be themselves, to be comfortable with themselves, and to follow their dreams (my parents never said anything that ridiculous, thank God. We'd still be mocking them to this day.), but then freak out when it looks like their free-spirited offspring start taking this advice and move away from the life their parents envisioned for them. We've all turned out pretty differently from each other in nearly every way imaginable. Knowing that we would have our parents' love and support as long as we didn't hurt anyone, leave the faith, or commit treason has been a tremendous factor in this. Want to major in something you enjoy with no solid career choice ahead of you? Great, here are some creative ways you could wind up using your degree. Want to move halfway across the country in pursuit of a potentially dangerous career? Just remember to call home. Want to take a break from school? Then you'd better find a way to make the time worthwhile. Mom and Dad have always been pretty good at leading by example when it comes to thinking for yourself. Mom has always realized that parental influence can only mold a person so much, and that she would eventually have to trust us to be responsible, moral human beings......who still will not behave in public. Thanks for always letting me be myself, Mom, even when it's inappropriate.
  • She also taught when we should probably act like someone else. That might sound terrible, but it isn't. Sometimes, you should just a nicer, taller, cleaner, more polite version of yourself in certain situations. Because of this, we've gotten through job interviews, first meetings of other people's parents, funerals, introductions to 'important' people, countless Poultry Festival events populated by drunk people, and college courses with professors we don't like.
  • Mom taught us a lot about proper nutrition. We may not always practice it ourselves, but we have a general idea of how we should take care of our bodies. But what I appreciate most are some of the quirky food rules I learned, like the fact that it's okay to have cake for breakfast if it's birthday cake. Or that pie is an acceptable meal if you're close to a major holiday. Or that any food is breakfast food; and that cereal is good for every meal. These food rules may have prepared me more for college than anything else.
  • Despite my unwillingness to cook, some (ahem) of my siblings' seeming inability to pick up after themselves, and our total disregard for the "small stuff" in life like the food pyramid and speed limits, Mom really did teach us to be self-sufficient. We can do the laundry, mow the lawn, put up a Christmas tree, change a diaper, discipline a child, deal with rowdy dogs, vacuum, clean a clogged drain, and light the pilot light on a water heater. I might be lying on that last one.
  • I should probably say something about how she's a good wife, because that always seems to be expected, but I'm skipping it. Really, the only person who knows what kind of wife she is for sure is my dad. But I can say with total certainty that he thinks she's the best. And again (I never thought about all the ways our parents lead by example, even after all that talking [we lived in the middle of nowhere--you've got to do something in the car to fill up the time], until today), she's shown us how to be happy, and comfortable, and just nice in a relationship. And that shows of love can be in big gestures (none of which are coming to mind right now!), and in small ones like buying someone's favorite cookies when you go to the grocery store, or having their favorite drink in the fridge, or telling them they look nice when they look the way they always do. And that these things apply to everyone. It's just a good way to treat people.
So, these are some things that I really like about my mom. And because this blog is in honor of her birthday, I'm not putting any pictures of her up because she seems to not like that. But if you know Mom, you should probably wish her a happy birthday because she would love to hear from you. And because it's just the polite thing to do. And because she's the best. Really.

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