Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's [Birth]Day

For the past 4 years, my mother has had to spend her special day worrying about her son(s) racing in National Championships.  This year is different.  This year I'm racing in Guatemala.  She's a trooper, though!

My mom's birthday is just before Mother's day, so she gets a double celebration. I think she's 32 years old now. Or 29? You certainly can't tell by looking at her, because somehow the woman doesn't age even after all the stress Shane and I put her through.

back when she was the tallest among us
Before I continue, I just want to say that it's kind of bizarre to think, "Yeah, this post is definitely going to make my mom cry.... Welp, better get typing!"

As I call up my mental file titled 'Memories with Mom', there's a fast montage that runs behind my eyes, and I've got to decide which ones you want to read about.

My whole life, her obvious goal has been to make me into a domesticated, well-balanced, educated, and polite human being.  Shane and I naturally resisted most of these efforts, but she still somehow succeeded.  We had weekly chores, manners training at the dinner table, cooking lessons....

I'm embarrassed to think of how many arguments we've had over doing our chores.  We really didn't have much to do, but I think we fought back on principle. I remember, sometime after moving to McKinney, convincing Shane that he was better at cleaning the bathrooms than me--and that I was better at vacuuming--so that I could avoid bathroom duty. I can't believe my mother let me get away with that.  I think it took Shane about a month to realize he'd gotten the bum end of that deal.

My parents wanted Shane and me to have nice things, but they weren't going to just buy them for us. If we wanted money, we were going to earn it. So, my mom started creating work for us to do, so that she would have a reason to give us money.  It started with pulling weeds in the yard.  A bucket of weeds earned $.50. Yes, 50 cents.  As we got older and needed more money to buy our toys, she invented bigger jobs for us.  It seemed there was always something to be done in the yard.  It was only fair to pay us the normal hourly wage for lawn work, so we racked up the bucks.  Nowadays, it seems the living room needs to be painted a new color every other year.

I remember the first cooking lesson I got from my mom as a kid: grilled-cheese sandwich.  She then taught me how to make cookie dough.  Although, truth be told, I think that was as much for her benefit as mine. I remember her saying, "Your grandmother would never let me, but the dough is my favorite part!" Shane and I would later take this to the extreme, making full batches of cookie dough with no intention of it ever reaching the oven.

My mom is quick to tell you that she enjoys baking--not so much cooking. She makes a mean apple pie, and always set aside the extra pie crust dough for munching. Any time she made any type of batter, she'd ask, "Do you want to lick the beaters? Or the bowl?" to which I would laughingly reply to the obviously-rhetorical question, "Do I want to lick the beaters and the bowl...." To which she would respond, "Or the bowl. I get one of them!"

She would take sick pleasure in singing her special wake-up song to me and Shane, despite our squeals of protest, and get it stuck in our heads for the day.

I already gave a background in how she got me started with piano, and I mentioned the various duets that we did.  Those duets are the best memories that my mother and I share, bar none. We got to share something that we both really enjoyed.  Of all the duets that we did, my favorite was the piano-flute duet of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", which we performed as an offertory at church during the Memorial Day service.  Not only was the song really fun to play, but it held special significance on that day.

Today is a day to honor the most selfless woman the world has ever known. I suppose her weed-pulling obsession is also for her benefit, but we learned many years ago that when she says, "I'm going out to work in the yard," that our search radius is 3-houses wide should we need to find her. Here is an actual conversation I had with her just the other week:

Me: "How was your day? Relaxing?"
Her: "Yes, I worked out in the yard pulling weeds."
Me: "Our weeds, or neighbors' weeds?"
Her: "Just our weeds!"
Me: "...."
Her: "Well, and the weeds that were right next to our yard."
Me. "...."
Her: "Okay, I spent the majority of my time in our yard."

Ever since my dad was diagnosed with cancer, she has been going nonstop.  Whether taking care of him when he was really sick, putting pounds back on him after he was sick, researching medicines and treatments, or anything else, she has been amazing.

I wish I could make her breakfast tomorrow, but she's in good hands.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom! I hope you find the time to take a much-deserved nap.