Let me just say that if Mother’s Day was a competition, I would win because I have the best mom ever (collective “awwwww”). But seriously, amid all the buzz surrounding Time Magazine’s controversial cover image of a thin, chic woman nursing her preschooler, the eternal debate over what a makes a good mother has been ramped up. I’m not in any mad rush to procreate, but I like to think about parenting because it’s better to have the education before you get the job. Of course, like every child, I have to take a look at my own mother and figure out whether I want to be just like her or do everything exactly opposite the way she did. Honestly, I don’t think I can settle on one of those, and I think that says something good about my mother. I have a lot of respect for the way she raised me, but since one of the things she taught me was to think for myself, I also have different opinions than her on parenting. Today is Mother’s Day (obviously), and I want to say a few words about what my amazing mom did well and just generally brag about what a cool person she is.
As many of your know, I consider “weirdness” one of my virtues. I couldn’t have become who I am today if my mom hadn’t let me explore my own personality, be a little silly, and express myself from the get-go. As soon as I could pick my own clothes out, I always wanted to wear mismatch socks. It wouldn’t have been that hard for my mom to say no and teach me how to pick out socks like a normal person, but she didn’t. She let me wear any sock combo my little heart desired. To this day, I rarely wear matching socks. Rather than follow me around trying to turn me into some pre-determined image, she was more concerned with molding my character and teaching me what matters in this world.
I have loved horses since I could say the word. When I was eight, I asked my mom if I could take riding lessons. At this time, she was a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom to my two younger brothers and me, and my dad was finishing up his last year of law school. We didn’t have a lot of extra money. She could have just said no, and I would have accepted that, or she could have used a credit card to make her only daughter’s biggest dream come true. She didn’t do either of those. She told me that if I saved up enough money for ten lessons (at $35 a pop), she would figure out how to pay for the rest. For almost a year, I asked for only money towards riding lessons on birthdays and holidays, and I saved every bit of money I got. When I finally had enough saved up to start riding, I truly appreciated the opportunity. I had sacrificed in order to get something I really wanted, and I was proud of my accomplishment.
My mom taught me to love books, to cherish art, and to never say “I’m bored” because she would always help me out by finding me a super fun cleaning or laundry folding activity. My mom let us run around outside without our shoes on, she let us climb trees, and she refused let us waste our childhood in front of the TV, even if it would have been more convenient for her. My mom wanted my brothers and me to know how big the world was so she and my globetrotting father took the opportunities to live in Saudi Arabia and Egypt while we were young and travel with us to the Taj Mahal , into the Pyramids of Giza, camping in the desert outside Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), and through the beautiful villages of the French Alps. My mom always encouraged me to create, she taught me to appreciate beautiful, historic homes, she talked to me about politics and God, she never talked to me like I was inferior or stupid, and she was (and is) always there for me when I felt lonely, scared, or just insecure.
Now that I’m completely grown up and know everything I need to survive in the real world and have total emotional maturity and…..uhh…ok….now that I’m not as little as I used to be, my mom is still my favorite person to be with. Frankly, she’s cooler than a lot of people my own age. Plus, she’s
one of the few people the only person who will spent extended periods of time making accents and funny faces in the mirror with me. She’s also the only person who appreciates my Russian, Ukrainian, Mid-west housewife, Southern belle, and New Zealand accents.
Bragging moment: My mom adores Jack White and Andrew Bird. Her favorite clothing stores are Urban Outfitters and Madewell. She snowboards. She can do 75 pushups in a row. She is beautiful and looks ten years younger than she is (I can’t actually tell you how old she is because she would kill me). She owns and runs her own business. In fact, she’s one of only a handful of women in the U.S. who own granite fabrication shops. She knows more about cars than many men. She’s really funny and smart.
We hang out all the time. We love going to concerts together. I’ll never forget this one show a couple years ago. We drove from D.C. to Philadelphia to see Beirut, one of our favorite bands. We were about halfway into the crowd, and I said “It’s ok, mom, we’re not going to get any closer.” She gave me this “how much you have yet to learn” look, took my hand, and started pushing toward the front saying “There she is. There’s Karen. Karen!…Excuse me we have to get to our friend.” This little ruse got us to the very front of a packed room. In June, she and I are going to Bonnaroo, a four day music festival in Tennessee, for the third year. It’s going to be a blast.
In closing, I’d like to say that the best part about my mom is that she balances being a mother and a friend better than any parent I’ve ever met. Sure, she has lots of faults, but that’s just part and parcel with being a human. I love her dearly, and I thank God for blessing me by giving me such a freakin awesome mom. Happy Mother’s Day Mommy Dearest.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”