For years now, I've admired my mother; older than the moms of most of my friends, she's plowed ahead with her life in the face of losing my father, forging friendships and bonds with others and never letting life get her down. She looks good, too; I'm seriously hoping I've gotten those genes if nothing else. Tomorrow she turns 81, and she could easily pass for someone at least 15 years younger, in both looks and attitude. She still mows her own 8 acres every week; she goes out with her "gang" about once a week for lunch; and she's set to travel once again at the end of the month when she accompanies her friends to Mackinac Island and New York for a week. She may be one of the world's best cooks, and she certainly knows how to keep a clean home. She's had breast cancer twice and both knees replaced and she's still running circles around me and most everyone else. "Can't" is not a word in her vocabulary.
Also for years now, we've butted heads on a regular basis. Somehow I was dropped into this family, never quite fitting in though always assured of being loved (and probably very spoiled). I certainly had more in common with my father than my mom. Mom has never understood my interests and in fact has often belittled them. In her defense, if she said the sky was blue I'd have to say it was purple, and if she said she liked one thing, I'd go out of my way to find something else. Oppositional/defiant? Maybe. Distancing myself from her? Definitely.
My mom has always been there for me, ready to babysit, lend money, and help out whenever asked. She doesn't insert herself into our lives without being asked, but that of course does not stop her giving opinions. And I may also be growing up; in the past few years I've made a concerted effort to NOT engage in arguments with her (doing a pretty fair job, but certainly not perfect). It's difficult to let some things go, especially when her beliefs and mine conflict. She's definitely not one for letting things go, so it's been a major milestone for me to learn how to do it. Jeff's even impressed that I'm making progress.
Overall, I'd have to say I've been fortunate and blessed to have this wonderful woman in my life, despite the head-butting and the sticky times when we've both said things we shouldn't have. When I see other people whose mothers are in nursing homes at age 81, I know God's letting me have her because I still need her. And while we may not always be on the same wavelength, part of getting older is learning where to meet one another--and sometimes learning to go past the halfway mark in doing so.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom, and Happy Birthday!