I would be hard-pressed to find just one favorite picture of my mom, because there are so many. There’s the one that used to hang in my Grandma’s house: mom wearing her ballet shoes and posing on pointe so beautifully. There are the black and white ones: her wearing knee-high white boots with a skirt/blouse vest outfit that is so 1960’s it hurts, and just hanging out with my dad next to one of their many VW Beetles. There’s the one that was staged by her wedding photographer: mom, the young bride, pulling twenty-dollar bills out of my dad’s jacket pocket. There’s the one of mom, my sister and I on the porch at our house in Park Forest, all wearing matching dresses and shirts, made and embroidered by mom. The pictures of mom with my boys. The pictures of my mom and dad on the day they renewed their wedding vows for their fiftieth anniversary.
And then there’s this one.
It makes me smile for the reasons you’re likely smiling right now, but there’s more. It truly reflects her ability to be spontaneous. We were at a special event during the release of “Kung Fu Panda 2” and a photographer was snapping pictures of children in front of the movie poster as they were creating goofy poses. Mom said, “That looks like fun…I want to do that!” and off she went, my sister snapping this gem.
Although I didn’t fully realize it until I was an adult myself, my mom has been teaching my sister and me a lot about making the most out of situations and opportunities since our earliest days. When most other kids were having simple birthday parties, ours were elaborately planned, creatively themed get-togethers. When our neighbors advertised for their garage sales with hastily scribbled signage, we attracted customers for ours with colorful, pretty signs and balloons, When others brought one dessert to a potluck dinner, we brought three.
Mom’s habit of going above and beyond in just about everything was (is!) not just a result of her wanting to do her best work. I have always looked at it as just one of the ways she showed how much she cares, for us and for others. By putting so much of herself into whatever she did (and still does), her feelings are made crystal clear. Those fantastic birthday parties she hosted for us when we were kids inspired me to do the same for my two sons. We once had a car-themed party for which I created not only handmade invitations and a beautiful cake, but also kid-sized cars out of cardboard boxes that the guests could “drive”, complete with license plates, steering wheels, and other features. When my older son needed to have a bake sale to raise money for his Boy Scout Eagle project, my sister and I baked for two days straight, making an astonishing amount of sweets available for purchase; so much, in fact, that people didn’t believe it had been just two of us doing the baking. Mom was proud.
My mom is always available to provide ideas and inspiration when I need that extra “something” to push whatever I’m doing over the edge. Though we don’t live in the same state, she’s always just a phone call away and I know she loves being a part of my efforts. I also love that we share the same opinion that in almost any situation, it’s a good idea to “go big or go home”.
Not everybody is lucky enough to have been raised by a creative, positive go-getter. I count my blessings on a regular basis that some of my mom’s best attributes have trickled down to my sister and me, and I’m happy to report that my sons have benefited as well!
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!