Continuing the series
With this week’s topic “Make Time for Your Mom on Your Birthday, It’s Her Special Day Too!”.
Birthdays are special days. They not only mark another trip around the sun for each of us, but they also celebrate the day we came into the world. It is a recognition of how special each of us is, and how the world would be a different place without us in it.
By all means, celebrate your special day! Gather with friends, have an adult beverage, eat cake. Do something that makes you smile. All these things are important, not to mention fun. However you like to spend your special day, do it. You do you!
Just remember to set aside at least a little bit of time for your mom on your birthday. Remember, your birthday is a special day for her too! There are a number of things that make your birthday special to her:
- It is the first time she met you after carrying you around inside her for the better part of a year!
- She is probably the first person YOU ever met!
- She is the first person, EVER, to wish you a happy birthday!
- She knows you better than ANYONE (probably even your dad) and gives you the best cards and gifts.
- She misses you. Yep, even if you are still living at home with her. Trust me, no matter how much time you already spend together she wishes it were more.
As a dad myself, I didn’t want to leave them completely out of the discussion, but hey, this post is about MOMs, so I won’t spend too much time talking about dads. Yeah, your birthday is a special day for him too, but not even remotely the way it is for a mom. After all, he had the easy (maybe even fun) part of your birth. He loves you, he’s (probably) proud of you and ALSO misses you, but he never had the pleasure of you lying on his bladder making him pee every 15 seconds like your mom did.
Growing up, we were on the extreme lower end of “middle class” families. I know there were, and are, people worse off than we were, but it was a constant struggle for us. With an alcoholic and usually unemployed stepfather, it was my mom that held the family together. She worked full time and took on as many extra shifts as she could. As a result she was rarely home, and when she was she was exhausted. She didn’t really have the time or energy to do much around the house or discipline us. I was the oldest of three, and much of that landed on me.
I was resentful
For many years after leaving home, I was resentful of being the one that had to skip football practice to come home and care for my younger sisters, cook dinner and all the other little things that keep a household moving forward. I really didn’t have a sense of how hard she was working.
As a result
Because of this resentment, I distanced myself from her for many years after I went away to join the navy. I remember her crying when I told her I enlisted…I was ELATED to be escaping. I couldn’t wait to get out on my “own”. I moved away and “never looked back”. You’ll know from earlier posts that I tell my kids to “never say never” …and I would have been better served if someone had taught me that. SPOILER: I looked back.
But not right away
MY mom became a master guilt tripper. I actually bought her a little ceramic sign to hang in her kitchen one Christmas that said, “Pack your bags, we’re going on a guilt trip!”. She chuckled, but I’m not sure she was as amused as I was.
Some of her favorite guilt trips to get me to come visit her were: “I wore underwear with holes in them just so you could have $20 for the prom” and “I lived on popcorn and Pepsi so you could have food”. And other similar gems. My guess is some of you have similar experiences.
It wasn’t till later
I was in my late 30’s when I realized that her “guilt trips” were just cries to have more of my time. By that time, I had kids of my own, and on a junior sailor’s salary supporting 4 kids it seemed I was always working a second job. Between spending time at sea, and those second jobs I was, like my mom, either not home or exhausted when I was…so I finally understood that those sacrifices she made for me were REAL. Turns out I was not a great son.
So, in my late 30’s, I finally reconnected with my mom. Two things stand out to me from that period:
- Her entire attitude was “I’m awfully glad to have you back” when it could have been “You’ve ignored me for so long you don’t deserve my attention”.
- The guilt trips stopped (well, mostly…but now when they happened it was more of a joke).
We did disagree…a LOT
I have, for a long time, been a “glass half full” guy. She was, for as long as I can remember, a “What glass?” lady. If you ever wanted to know why something you were trying to accomplish was impossible, just tell her you are trying to accomplish it. It made for some interesting conversations; I can tell you that! We lived in different areas of the country, so mostly we spoke on the phone and nearly all our conversations included her saying “I don’t know why I talk to you!”.
Every conversation ended by telling one another we loved each other. And we did. And I was confident that she loved me like only a mother can. She welcomed me back with open arms after all, and never ONCE tried to make me feel bad about the time we lost.
And then, suddenly
And then, suddenly, she was gone. I spoke with her on the phone from work one afternoon…and it was a pretty frustrating conversation. She was asking me for help with a problem, but just kept shooting down all the things she could do to resolve it with “That’ll never work” language. I was not really a fan of her defeatist attitude.
The next morning
I didn’t think much of that conversation at the time. It was like many we had over the course of a couple decades. I just figured I’d talk to her in a day or two and see how things were going. But the next morning my sister called to tell me she had passed away overnight. That frustration was no longer important.
I don’t have many regrets in life. As a matter of fact, life has been very good to me. Today I consider myself to be on the extreme UPPER edge of middle class. I have four great kids who I am in contact with almost every day (thank you email and text messaging, not to mention unlimited calling minutes that you can use before 7PM on a weeknight). I credit the work ethic my mother embodied when I was growing up for much of my success. Thanks mom!
My one big regret
Is the time I lost with my mom. On my 50th birthday my wife threw me a birthday party and brought my mom down to celebrate it. For my birthday she gave me $50 (which was a LOT of money for her) and a single silver half-dollar that was minted the year I was born. She also reminded me (I was the oldest, remember) that I was the reason she became a mom.
You can’t get it back
I was devastated when mom passed, I felt un-tethered from the world. To this day I beat myself up for missing almost 2 decades with her. I would give almost anything for ONE more frustrating conversation with her. But you can never get lost time back.
Remember to always set aside some time for your mom on your birthday, it’s HER special day too!
And I get it…
There are many different life circumstances in families. Some people are estranged from their mom, some have toxic relationships, some are adopted and don’t know their birth mom. But there are also a lot of different ways to set aside time for her, even if you don’t know her or don’t get along with her. Understand you can have a relationship with her if you remember that you can only have the relationship SHE is capable of, not the one you want. Even if by yourself, take a few minutes to be grateful for the woman who carried you to term and then gave birth to you. Don’t make the same mistakes I did!
What does this have to do with VO and Acting?
Nothing. Nothing at all…except to say you would not be able to pursue this career that you love if it weren’t for your mom!
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