Today is my mom's birthday. She's turning 60 years old. The weird thing (and I hope she doesn't take this the wrong way) is that 60 sound *old* to me, but I look at her and she just seems so much younger.
So, since it's her birthday and all, it seems appropriate to write a little about how incredibly awesome she is.
I've always liked my mom. Growing up I remember people often pointing out how much I looked like her. Hearing that always made me proud. I've never been one of those people that loathes the idea of "turning into their parent"-- I've always figured if I end up being like her as a person and mother, I will have done very well. Sure, there were times I didn't like her all that much or didn't think she knew what she was talking about at all (mostly between the ages of 13 and 19 or so), but overall we've tended to have a pretty good relationship over the years, and I have always appreciated what a wonderful, selfless, loving person she is.
That appreciation has grown about a million-fold since having a baby.
I hear of friends whose parents aren't all that involved with their kids, and it makes me so, so grateful that Zach and I have the parents that we do, who dote over Donovan was much as they do. As soon as we told my mom that we were expecting, she set out on a mission to find new yarn so she could start crocheting a baby blanket for her grandchild. She asked about coming out to visit when Donovan was to be born, asking so timidly and worried about not being wanted (when I asked Zach if it was ok for her to come out his respinse was, "She wants to come and help? Please! Tell her to stay as long as she wants!"). So she planned a 5-week long stay around my due date, and through miraculous timing she landed in Switzerland literally just a few hours after I started feeling contractions. Her help during those five first weeks as a mother myself was... I can't state how great it was. She did everything she could to help, from taking D on multiple walks all around the neighborhood to cooking dinner most nights to keeping D in her room at night so we could sleep a little better between the multiple feedings. And through it all she was my cheerleader, giving her advice where needed but always backing me up and giving me the confidence I needed to feel ok taking care of that kiddo all day long after she left. I know I would have survived without her there if I'd needed to, but I don't wish to think about what those beginning weeks would have been like without her help and guidance. (You'd better believe that as soon as we get pregnant with our next kid I'll be calling her and booking her a flight to come stay with us again to help with the transition)
She and my step-dad have flown out to visit us many, many times since then, both out in Switzerland and now back here in California, and she continues to be an amazing help and inspiration. She's the one that wakes up with him at whatever hour he chooses, urging Zach and I to get back to bed and sleep in some more, and taking him on long early morning walks whenever needed. On one recent trip to Texas we arrived only to realize we had left the musical giraffe D goes to sleep with back here-- Mom raced out to Target (where I'd bought that giraffe a good year earlier) to try to find a replacement. She often calls me to gush over his latest pictures, and I know she'll never get tired of me gushing right back to her on whatever super-cute thing he has done lately. She is my inspiration and my model for how to be a good mom, and it makes my heart feel so full to know that Donovan will grow up with her as a grandmother (not to mention his other 4 grandparents, who all love and dote on him just as much).
I could go on and on about all the other things that make my mom amazing-- the way she took a chance as a young 20-something and followed her heart to be with my dad in a far-away land despite her family being so against it; the way she moved back to the US twenty years later with four children and managed to raise us on her own, while working full-time AND getting her master's degree and never make us feel like we were missing out on anything; the way she puts everyone else's needs above her own (sometimes to a fault, and then we get to remind her to do something for herself every once in a while); the way she has tirelessly helped take care of her own aging parents the past several years; the way that, despite all the "mistakes" she claims to have made as a parent, we always felt loved and supported and like we could do anything. But if I did all that I'd go on forever, when really all that needs to be said is, "Mom, I love you, and you're awesome. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!"