|Christmas, 1967. Definitely the cutest I've ever been.|
So this is a rerun of the original post, entitled "A Bouquet of Bullet Points," but with a special bonus bullet to demonstrate the perspective I have gained over the past year. And a poem that I didn't write.
- She has never given up on her kids, even when (some of us) have been thankless, recalcitrant, unreasonable, nihilistic, self-destructive, or unresponsive. When I was trying my hardest, God knows why, to fail out of high school, she once told me she had had it--she was just going to let me fail. The next day, she was on my back about my homework again. And then for two years after high school, she never stopped trying to get me interested in college even though I constantly rebuffed her, until the day I woke up and said, "Hey--I think I'll go to college now," at which point she produced the application materials out of thin air and started helping me fill them out.
- She always sticks up for the underdog. I don't think she realizes that she's doing this. Whenever there were fights between the siblings, Mom always defended whoever was most beleaguered. This could be frustrating, because the most miserable person wasn't always the one who was right. It seemed unjust if you were righteously indignant but otherwise on an even keel emotionally; but it wasn't so bad when you were being a jerk and feeling terrible about yourself. It took me a long time to realize that there are more important roles for a mom than meting out justice.
- She doesn't take any bullshit. I mean, from me she does. But growing up, I saw her make some grown men look like they were going to cry after they tried to get over on her somehow, especially if they were patronizing in their attempts to placate her. This is another thing she may not realize she's doing. I've seen her intimidate incompetent waiters, amorous drunks, Military Police, and my obnoxious friends, to name but a few. And heaven help the young smartass who makes a sexist comment within earshot of Mom. This taught me to be less of an idiot and a dick than I would naturally have been inclined to be.
- She sets a good example. Although she's not a big storyteller like (ahem) some other members of our family, she has led a rich life, from being a farm kid in hardscrabble North Central Montana, to a college sorority girl, military wife, teacher, mom, public servant, non-profit maven, and hardcore backcountry skier. The pace she keeps as a "retired" person puts most working stiffs to shame. Her example, and her encouraging words, make me believe I can keep pursuing new experiences and charging off in new directions endlessly.
- She sets a good example (addendum) Not only does my mom continue to set an example for how to be a good person in general; she also sets a good parenting example. It's an article of faith these days that "being your kids' friend" will only ruin your children. That's bullshit as far as I'm concerned. Despite having the usual parent vs. kid struggles, my mom remained my friend throughout. There were rough patches, as there are in any friendship, but we got over them. And as a good friend should, she didn't cut me any slack when she saw that I was making terrible mistakes. Like a good friend, she let me know when she didn't approve of my other friends. She gave me space when I needed it, but brought the hammer down when I was being stupid.