Look Ma, nice words!

Today’s beverage: I mean I did have a mimosa after my workout this morning. That counts, right?

It’s Mother’s Day, y’all! So why not write some nice things about the lady who made me!

I’ve been wildly fortunate to have the mom that I have. She’s more than just a mom to me; she’s also my best friend. It’s a real Hallmark movie up in here, minus the part of the movie where someone gets murdered.

To be cliche as fuck, it’s impossible to pinpoint the specific reasons that my mom is the amazing human that she is. She’s just always been there to be supportive, to set an example, to be a shoulder to cry on (literally- she’s pretty short), and to be a source of inappropriate humor.

When my brothers and I were little, my mom was a NICU nurse, and my dad was a police officer. This meant alternating day and night shifts, getting home from a long day of work and seeing that we were all taken care of for the next parental shift. It is here that I learned that if I want to be a working mom, I can make it work.

When my mom had to leave her job for medical reasons, she jumped into the role as room mother at school. She was there year after year, helping with projects. It’s here I learned that a working mom is not necessarily someone with a paycheck. Being a mom is a job in so many ways. It is also here that I learned that I did not inherit my mom’s skill for arts and crafts.

In these years, my mom showed me that her capacity for being a mom was far-reaching beyond just her DNA. She was able to find the kids that needed support, kids that lacked the stable home life that I was fortunate to have, and she brought them right into our family. While at times I was not on board with sharing, I know now that her example is something I will always strive to live up to.

Ok, this paragraph shows I was hella spoiled, so buckle up. I’d like to think I wasn’t a brat, but it probably depends who you ask. Every morning I woke up, and part of my breakfast would be made for me. And it’s not like she wasn’t busy! I left for school every day with a packed lunch and snack money (I was an athlete, get at me). I never even spent the snack money. At the end of each month I’d dump out a backpack full of dollar bills like some sort of unsuccessful stripper. I mean $60 a month? Clearly I wouldn’t have been doing something right.

As I aged into the years where popular television told me I was supposed to be angsty and rebel, my mom and I stayed inseparable. We didn’t fight. Ironically, this made the times when we did have disagreements more difficult because we didn’t know how to handle it. I can’t remember a time when I ever felt embarrassed of her, of a time when I didn’t want her around. I mean, she’s a badass, why wouldn’t I want her around? Her humor and sarcasm is rivaled by none, though her ability to cuss like a sailor is a trait that I think my dad wishes I hadn’t inherited.

She taught me to be a strong woman, to push back against the concept of conceding just to be ladylike. She taught me to fight for the things I want. She taught me that as a woman, there is no shame in taking pride in your work and capabilities. She taught me that I have a voice, and that voice can be used to challenge others. She taught me to stand up for myself, to be an advocate for myself and those who can’t advocate for themselves.

My mom was (and is) unstoppable. She hand-made Halloween costumes, she attended concerts, she was at track meets and soccer games. She curled my hair for dance competitions. Neither of us did my makeup because we had no idea what to do.

Once I hit college, our relationship remained strong, despite the distance. She is the mom I want to be for my kids. I was able to seek her advice on drinking, on boys, on sex; there were no limits. And her advice was never “don’t do it.” Instead, she was able to teach me how to take risks safely. She was the safety net for when I tested my limits. She was my sounding board when I was unsure of what I wanted in life.

My mom took me to get my first two tattoos. When I got my second one, she even got one with me! If I remember correctly, she actually paid for my first one.

I’m so grateful for our relationship because I know many people don’t have that. Sometimes I take that for granted.

Case and point: my first foray into birth control when I was in college.

I remember going to the college health center for birth control. I guess they’re used to students paying out of pocket so their parents don’t find out. But my mom already knew. I told the staff I could just go through my insurance. Well, I’m not sure if they didn’t believe me or if they thought I was out of my mind, but the nurse handed me a piece of paper and told me if I filled it out, I get my prescription for free. College students are hard-wired to accept free things. It’s science. So anyway, I fill out the form and off I go. Fast forward to my next trip home when I discover that I’m now receiving food stamps. The school signed me up for welfare! They did me a bamboozle! And my parents are sitting there like, you know we don’t care, right?!

Side note: it was very difficult to remedy this mistake. Not wanting to use resources I didn’t need, I tried to remove myself from the program. No one on the phone seemed to understand why I’d want out. I eventually just gave up and mailed the card back to them with a note that said “no thanks.”

One of the best things about my mom is that her unending support is paired with a non-judgmental wit and sarcasm that makes life fun. I remember pointing out a wedding dress I liked on TV one day while she was cleaning, and without breaking stride she just said, “too bad you can’t wear white anymore.” Some of you may think that’s inappropriate. And to that I say, calm da fuck down. Because remember, this is the same woman who helped me to be safe when navigating the world of dating and boys. The only reason she could even make that joke is because we had already built the foundation in our relationship that allowed us to share those details.

A few years ago, when my mental health truly bottomed out, she dropped everything and drove 2.5 hours to pick me up from CPEP (psychiatric ER). When I laughed at the fact that a visitor asked me if I worked there despite the fact that I was wearing running clothes and a blanket and my shoes had been confiscated, she laughed along with me while others responded with concerned stares. When I referred (privately and never to another patient) to the partial inpatient program that was a condition of my release as “The Island of Misfit Toys,” she accepted the name.

While some people may have treated me like glass in this situation, she understood that I needed to find humor in my situation to cope, because it’s a strategy I learned from her. I mean, when my mom had cancer, she renamed the oncologist “the cancer palace.”

She taught me that when life gives you lemons, you don’t have to make lemonade. You can actually tell those lemons to fuck right off.

Looking back at all of our years together, I can only think of one time that we struggled to see eye to eye. After living on my own through grad school, I moved home. I had just gotten out of a very controlling relationship, and I was trying to make up for lost time. At this point in time, my parents were living at our camp, and I had my childhood home to myself. When they were home, I’d stay out all night and not say anything. This is super fun for parents that spent their lives as first responders. I was working three jobs, one of which was at a bar, and I lived my life like I was some sort of alcoholic raccoon. I was never home unless I was sleeping and to scrounge through the house for whatever food I could eat, and then I’d leave to repeat the process. Dark under eye circles included, I probably even looked like a trash panda at times.

And we fought. And it was totally my fault. I barely took care of myself, so that’s a good indication of what I did to their house. At that time, I lived selfishly, and I will always feel bad about that.

But I eventually pulled my head out of my butt, and now we are back better than ever. It’s a good thing too, because being friends with your mom as a kid is great, but being friends with your mom as an adult? That’s the dream.

So in summary, Happy Mother’s Day to my mom. You are my best friend, my hero, my compass, my momma bear.

And Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there.

To the biological moms, the adoptive moms, the foster moms, the women taking care of siblings/grandchildren/nieces&nephews, to the guardians, to the dads pulling double duty as dad and mom, to the moms who’ve lost their children and the moms who’ve lost their babies before they even got to meet them, to the women who’ve had to move heaven and earth to become mothers, to the women seen as mother figures by people in their lives, to the stepmoms, and to any other mothers I’ve missed, Happy Mother’s Day.

And instead of my usual catchphrase, I will end on this:

To people who think it’s funny to say they’re pregnant as a prank…be better.

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