Things I know (and love) about my mother:
-She is a calm, secure, quiet, and gentle. I can honestly say I never remember my mom raising her voice at us. I can never remember her getting "really mad" at anyone. Yes, she raised FIVE children this way....teenage years, and all, and trust me, we weren't little angels. Well, I was of course, but my brothers, and sisters, no way! (That is a joke, please know, angel I was not.)
-She taught us, by example, how to like living simply, without lots of stuff, and how to keep things neat and in order. She taught us to appreciate little things. She made each birthday and holiday so special and exciting, because she didn't ruin it by overdoing it all. She concentrated on the real meaning of all the holidays, but left the fun in them also.
-My mom is the most consistent person I have ever known. When we were children, we knew we would have chores posted on Saturday, we had set bedtimes, we had a snack waiting for us after school every day. We had a nicely set dinner table every night, with a meat, a vegetable, a starch, and ate as a family. Church on Sundays....every Sunday. I appreciate that so much now, because I know how hard it is to be consistent with all the change that takes place in a family.
-My mom is an expert in child development. (Really, she is.) She knows SO much about how children's brains work, from infants to young adults, and what should be expected of them, or what cannot be expected of them. Add this in with a calm, secure, loving, consistent environment and you just have the ideal place for growth.
-She knows education is where it's all at. And she sacrificed to send us to the best schools in the area.
-She has to go to bed early. Really early. It could be that in her 70's, she still works full time (see below) teaching classrooms full of junior high students, and wakes up at 5 a.m. to do so. I learned from her that the early bird gets the worm.
-My mom is an incredibly passionate educator. Jeff always says that wherever my mom teaches, they'd have to replace her with three people if she left. It's totally true.
-She gave me the gift of loving to read. She would take my sisters and I to the library in the summer and we were allowed to get out the maximum number of books...and really, we would read them all. We almost never went shopping, but she often took us to the little local book shop to spend our money on Nancy Drew or Trixie Belden.
-She is so smart. Now if you asked my mom who Jennifer Lopez is, there is a good possibility she will say, "Who?" Which is why she's smart, right? She doesn't waste her time on all this dumb stuff that means nothing... she really really thinks about the bigger picture of life....the things that make a difference. I don't know how to describe it...sure history, literature, religion, culture, psychology, of course she's really smart that way...that is important too, but that's not what I'm talking about either. She knows what it means to fully accept someone, she weighs words carefully and knows when to step in and when not to and what to say when she does, she understands that everyone grows in different ways, and stages, and places and is so aware and careful of that. She is not one to interfere, but one to sit back and know that usually the only way towards growth is the path you discover yourself. Everyone would always say to me, growing up, (she was the youth director at our church for a long time) "your mom is the best listener". She just has this inner emotional scale that knows how to deal with all sorts of people from all walks of life.
Happy Birthday Mom...
...and thank you for everything you have done for me, from the bottom of my heart!