My mom is joyful.
She smiles in her sleep and laughs all the day through.
There is a language to laughter, and she is fluent. A young giggle to explain why there are keys in the fridge, a wise chuckle because her children did something endearing, and my favorite– the full-bodied laugh of someone completely devoted to the celebration of the moment.
She’s my mom, by virtue of my birth– but she’s your mom, too.
She cares about you, truly. Maybe she hasn’t met you yet, or maybe she’s only seen you in passing, but she loves you because you are part of the world, which makes you part of her family. She’s trusting you with her dreams for the future and the care of her children, because you are worthy of that trust.
She has faith in who you are now, and faith in your ability to grow and learn.
My mom is a teacher– by trade, yes– but also by birthright. She teaches strangers, kids, other teachers, and those who seem beyond redemption. In teaching, she says, you learn. And when you expand your mind, you expand your heart.
It’s a philosophy she takes seriously, and her physical heart has trouble keeping up with all that expansion. She’s had heart attacks, and gone to work the very next day, wearing a child in a papoose on her back and humming to the musical numbers from Carmen. She is strong, she is brave, and she is not afraid of hard work.
For awhile, there was a popular myth that a bumblebee couldn’t actually fly, based on the rules of physics. That it flew only because it didn’t know any better, and because it wanted to.
That’s my mom.
If you ask how it was to raise 6 kids, she says it was easy. She had great kids. If you ask how it was to be the only employed woman in an entire university, she said it was wonderful. She worked with such generous people. If you ask how a Mexican woman found her way to the top of the academic world in a time rife with discrimination in the workplace, she says she didn’t notice those things. People were always so welcoming, so interesting.
Outside a McDonald’s, a man once made the mistake of trying to nab her purse. When caught seconds later, he probably expected a call to the police, or a punch to the face. What he didn’t anticipate was a mom. A disappointed mom. She landed a lecture on him that changed the course of his life.
Today, he’s a family friend, a man who towers at least 20 inches over my mother, and is a valued member of the community. He’s never ceased to be surprised by that moment. Her fearlessness and faith frightened him. He says it was the most foolish thing he’d ever witnessed, and the kindest.
My mom says those things are often the same.
There’s a greatness in people that she sees. Sometimes– often– she’s the only one who sees it. She’s a mom and a teacher– but perhaps it’s best said that she is a gardener of mankind. Even when the internal goodness of a person is a tiny seed, she can make it blossom.
She quietly, blissfully rejoices in nurturing. It’s a slow, manual job– dirty, and often times unnoticed by others– but she finds joy in the work. A weed is removed, a plant is nourished, and a garden is born. She finds joy in the sunshine, and the flowering of a seedling.
Once in a while, someone will notice that she’s taken a plot of dirt and turned it into a green wonderland. They compliment the beauty of it and ask how she managed the transformation.
Every time, she’ll look up with a huge smile on her face– hands covered in dirt, hair muddied– and say the garden was there all along.
She was just lucky enough to find it.
Here’s my submission to the Weekly Writing Challenge over the Daily Post. I figured it was perfect timing, given that it was my mom’s birthday this week, to write a little post about her.
Happy Birthday, mom. I’ve been so lucky to have you!
To see what Dave & I made for my mom’s birthday, visit his post: https://graysonqueen.wordpress.com/2013/02/15/my-february/