My mom used to go all out for our birthdays. I don’t mean she spent a lot of money. At that time, I don’t think my parents had a lot of extra money to spend. So she got creative. One year my brother had a pirate party and everyone was given handmade maps to their own treasure buried in the woods across from our house.
When I think back on my childhood, it’s full of little normal moments when my mom went beyond where she had to.
She was the mom who picked me up when I fell, put a band-aid on and then lovingly told me to keep playing, because that would make it feel better.
She was the mom who made three meals a day and let us help plan a month’s menu so we could feel like we were a part of the process.
She was the mom who let me traipse around her garden in tiny sandals, probably stepping on plants along the way, so I would one day appreciate what it’s like to grow my own food and flowers.
She was the mom who, when our home was intact following a major hurricane, packed us all into the car and drove us to North Raleigh so we could help members of our church clean up from their own devastation.
She’s the mom who knew she was terrified of storms, so she made sure to spend time with us watching lightning and counting until the thunder clapped, so we wouldn’t have the same fear.
She drove me from school to dance to swim practice to whatever rec. league sport was in season at the time and always talked to me about my day on the way there – in a way that made me want to share my life with her.
She let me borrow her sewing machine when I was a middle schooler with a penchant for creating purses, pajama pants, pillows and more.
My mom always wanted to help me learn how to cook and I was stubborn for too long and didn’t give her the attention that I probably should have, but she often forgivingly invites me into her kitchen as an adult to make up for lost time.
She’s the mom who will still talk to me over the phone later at night until I reach my destination, just to make sure I make it there.
She’s still one of the very first people I’d call if I ever needed help or to share good news.
When I was very young, I wanted my birthday party to be a “teddy bear tea”. My friends wore their finest dress-up clothes and brought their teddy bears along. My mom made the usual snacks and drinks for the kids, but also took the time to set a table for the visiting bears and even made them tiny marmalade sandwiches, because that’s what Paddington ate.
I’m convinced moms are made in these little moments – in the hours spent drawing treasure maps on normal paper and burning the edges to make them look old and in the spreading of marmalade on tiny, delicate pieces of bread so a group of 5 year olds can pretend.