1. My mom can be pretty scary. She may not look scary here, but wait until she brings out The Flashing Eyes. Then you'll run. And cover your bottom. (I say 'bottom' instead of 'butt' because I don't want The Flashing Eyes to flash at me.)
2. My mom is a teacher. I always loved knowing that my mom was a person outside of her identity within the family. She taught school for many years before she got married and had children, and also part-time on and off while I was growing up, so I have always thought of my mother as a teacher. A great teacher.
3. My mom is one of those people who talks to everybody. She makes jokes with the lady straightening the rack in the clearance section of the store. Grocery clerks tell her about their infertility problems. She once attended a poetry slam because the guy who cleaned the building where she volunteered was doing a reading. She has listened for long hours while a loquacious and deaf neighbor has repeated, at top volume, all of the injustices that befell her in childhood.
4. My mom was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis twenty five years ago, but she has never let that define her. I recently heard someone describe a family member as being "chronically ill." Curious, I asked what illness the individual was coping with. "Oh, rheumatoid arthritis," my friend remarked. For a moment, I was confused. But my mom has rheumatoid arthritis, I thought. And she's not chronically ill. It's not like the RA doesn't affect her. It sure does. But my mom doesn't think of herself as ill or crippled, so neither does anyone else who knows her.
5. My mom is pretty much obsessed with tennis. It's a random thing she picked up five, ten years ago. She knows the names of all the big pros and follows the big tournaments religiously. And when the Davis Cup came to Boise, you bet your booty that she and my dad were there, front and center. On a somewhat related note, she is also a die-hard BYU sports fan. She will listen to entire football games on the radio. And more than once she has showed up to grandkids' birthday parties with headphones so she could tune into the action during a lull in the festivities.
6. My mom is a woman of faith. She has been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints her whole life. She serves faithfully in any way that she is asked to. She ensured that we had family scripture study and prayer every morning before we left for school. She encouraged gospel discussion around the dinner table. She sent both her sons on full-time missions for the church and all four of her children have been to the temple.
7. My mom is a reader. I remember her bringing a book along wherever we went. She read at sports practices and while she waited for us to finish up piano lessons and when we were camping and when we were not camping. She read aloud to us on roadtrips. She's belonged to a book club for probably twenty years now. She passed that love of reading down to each of her children.
8. My mom is astoundingly emotionally healthy. She doesn't have any neuroses. She doesn't dwell on negative things. She's not constantly wracked with guilt and anxiety like so many women are (ahem...me). She's not manipulative. She's not prone to wild mood swings. (Though I will say that her forging her way through menopause while I simultaneously climbed the mountain of puberty was sometimes a little, um, strenuous...) She's extraordinarily good at balance-- balancing activity with stillness, service with boundaries, work with play. Scariness with lovingness. And that's probably what I'm the most amazed at--my mom's ability to be so totally loving and so totally in charge.
9. My mom is musical. She loves music. A lot. She was so excited about The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat that I was excited about them too. I recently spent a happy Sunday afternoon at her home, listening to amazing Mormon Tabernacle Choir tracks with her. She plays the piano and also played the organ for many years. Recently a little girl from church told my mother that she was her "piano hero."
If being born in a family is like playing the lottery, I totally hit the jackpot. I'm so grateful for my parents, and on this mother's day, I am especially grateful for my mom. Love you, Mama.