In honor of Mother's Day tomorrow, I thought I'd tell you a little bit about my mom. (There she is, below, comforting me when the vacuum cleaner was running.)
When we were growing up, mom took my older sister and I everywhere - camping, to museums, all up and down the Natchez Trace, out to the Petrified Forest, just everywhere. A while back, someone said something to the effect of, "Ask Nicole if that would be a fun place to go with your kids. She's been everywhere." And it's true, because of mom. She taught me that you're only bored if you want to be, and she gave my sisters and I a great real-life education just by toting us all over the place and introducing us to lots of people. I have tried to do that so far with Clay, and I hope that I'll be able to keep doing that. Even though it's been challenging, I've loved having him travel and see the local sights with me.
When mom was a young bride, the house was always full of daddy's hungry, boisterous relatives. Mom didn't know the first thing about Middle Eastern cooking, but she learned to make all of these traditional Lebanese foods to satisfy everyone. Back then, you couldn't buy traditional Arabic bread locally, so mom designated one day a week as baking day. I remember every surface in the kitchen being covered with flatbread - counters, the kitchen table, the dining room table, all of it. I still marvel at her energy to care for that whole bunch, plus bring up two little girls (and later, a third).
Mom's smart, and she thought it was important to teach her kids as much as she could. All of us were reading before we started preschool (Mom taught us to read with a book called Wheeler's Primer. I remembered it so well that when I was pregnant, I went on Ebay and bought a copy of it so I could use it to teach Clay.), and we were all placed in gifted programs during school.
During my teenage years, mom was really sick. She has severe rheumatoid arthritis, and she was basically bedridden for a good long while there. It couldn't have been fun, and it couldn't have been easy. She had to depend on some pretty forgetful and irresponsible teenaged girls to do things she would have much rather done herself, and she was in constant pain. Even today, her threshold for pain is unbelieveable, because pain is something she's just had to learn to live with.
But even when she was hurting, you could usually coax a smile out of her somehow. She used to fuss at me because when I'd fix her a sandwich, I'd take a bite out of it before I gave it to her. I only did it because it became a running joke between us, and she'd kinda smile as she was scolding me over it. (I must admit, I have a talent for making her laugh, and I love it. In that picture below, I'd just cracked some stupid joke, and we were both still chuckling over it when the photographer captured us mid-guffaw.)
She'd sit on a stool at the stove to cook supper, and if we were in the den cutting up and making her mad, she'd reach over and toss a wooden spoon or a spatula in our general direction as a warning. (It saved her the laborious task of getting up and walking in there.) I still laugh about it now, because her aim was HORRIBLE. She couldn't have hit a barn door, but she still lobbed a cooking implement into the den every once in a while, just to keep us on our toes!
When I was in college, mom had some surgeries that dramatically improved her quality of life. (Once we got past the post-op infections. Ugh.) Even though she was scared to go "under the knife," she did it, and it paid off. I'm so, so grateful that she feels better on a daily basis, and that she's able to enjoy her life and her family more now.
As I've grown older, I've naturally come to appreciate my mother a whole lot more. The jokes have gotten a little raunchier, and the conversations have gotten a little more honest. We talk at least once a week, and I try to take the baby by to see her every couple of weeks. (It was rough when I first started back to work, but we're getting a little better now.)
Tonight, we went out for a swanky dinner at Schimmel's, where we ate far too much and still indulged in cheesecake, lots of laughter, and a glass of wine or two.
Love you, Mom.