When I was in sixth grade our class had a special “fast food” day. I don’t remember the reason or occasion, but our moms were supposed to pick up our favorite fast food meal and bring it to us for lunch on the lawn. I was different than everyone else. I was different because my mom was intent on raising healthy kids, and having not grown up on it, I honestly wasn’t a fan of fast food. So I requested half a cantaloupe partially hollowed out and filled with a myriad of other fruits. My mom happily obliged and my teacher was stunned by the whole thing.
In the fifth grade, some of my “friends” tried to use this fact about my mother against me. Pre-teen girls can be petty and mean, shifting alliances on a whim for the slightest of reasons. On this particular occasion, I was chosen to bring cupcakes to a class party…and this one girl was not happy about it, having wanted the privilege herself. So she turned several other girls against me, saying that if I brought the cupcakes they would surely be some tasteless “healthy” version that no one would like. We happened to be giving this particular girl a ride home from school one day and I casually mentioned to my mom that some of the kids had an issue with me providing the treats. My mom responded loud and clear: she would be making the junkiest cup cakes possible…from a cake mix, topped with canned frosting and sugary sprinkles. Needless to say, the girl’s scheming to usurp the cupcake bringing rights stopped then and there.
I always knew as a child that my mother loved me. I knew that the reason my house was void of the typical sugary snacks and my lunches looked a bit different from those of my friends was because my mother loved me and cared about my health. And I really knew she loved me when she jettisoned her healthy principles on the cupcake occasion in order to spare me further taunting from the girls at school.
My mom’s healthy habits are evident to the eye. One of my sister’s college friends once looked at a family photo and mistook my dad for a widower with seven kids, because no one in the picture showed evidence (in either age or physique) of having borne six children. Among my mom, my sisters, and I…I think we can all concur that my mom has the best figure…and she’s 55! When I ran my first half marathon, at 19, my mom beat me by more than ten minutes. She ran a marathon before I ever did…and not just because she had a 27 year head start. She was 53 at the time. My mom has always been an example to me of the importance of staying active and eating healthy. She is an excellent hiker, routinely leaving younger adults and teens in the dust. It is in large part because of her example that I have made running such a priority in my life. She often talks of the importance of staying in shape during one’s child bearing years. And she doesn’t just talk the talk…she walks runs the walk.
There are so many wonderful things that can be said of my mother, but I will touch on just one more thing here. My mom is a marvelous example of service. Somehow she is busier now, with only one kid at home, than she ever was with all six! She has filled up her time with so many good things, most of which are in the service of others. She is treasured by her friends, because they know that so true a friend is truly rare. She knows how to just listen, which is a good trait in a friend.
My mother is an artist, her unique style easily recognizable to those who know it. Her specialties are cartoons, caricatures and calligraphy. She has used her talent mainly to benefit and serve others for as long as I’ve know her, staying up well into many a night finishing up projects others have requested. She churns out posters for parties and events; she was the sole source of all of my campaign posters, tags and fliers when I ran for class office in high school; she has taught calligraphy classes for free; one of my sibling’s elementary school teachers requested that she draw large, colored, caricatures of each of the (at least 30) students in the class as Mother’s Day gifts. She always goes way above and beyond when it comes to art projects, because she enjoys doing it.
Of course, as busy as my mother is, she still is able to put her life on hold for two weeks with the birth of every new grandchild. She dutifully and cheerfully shows up before I’m even out of the hospital and tends the other kids, makes delectable dinners (treating us like royalty…spending more on two weeks of groceries than we would in a month), cleans the house, and never forgets to treat me to a post-pregnancy shopping spree.