My mom's birthday was July 3. She is 73. Sorry, mom. I suppose divulging your age is the first rule of lady code I just broke.
Well, I say wear your age proudly. Because when you've lived 73 years and seen what my mom has seen, I think you just throw your hangups about age out the window.
My mom is my compass. She's my lighthouse in the dark. She is my mom and that's my everything.
I am probably one of the luckiest humans to have such a woman in their life that breathes into her hope, inspiration and security.
My mom doesn't have it easy. She takes care of my sister, who is disabled. Mom has had her own bout of hardships. Three joint replacement surgeries, a life-saving surgery when her intestine was blocked and she could have died. Oh, and she's a cancer survivor. So, there's that.
Also, when you're born in Frankfurt in 1941 you are surrounded by a world at war. To think this little being and many others like her came in to this world under Germany's darkest years. But if there's a light one cannot extinguish even during this dark period, it was my mom coming forth. Little Uta. I think she was born speaking and solving problems, but that's just my admiration for her. I know she was a regular little girl, a person with her own hopes and dreams before she was my mom. It's hard for us as children to picture our parents as people. I mean, you're telling me they had lives before they devoted it all to us? Indeed. This is a hard fact for my own children to accept sometimes. When you wear the badge of 'MOM,' it's hard to be seen as anything else.
Sure, like other children, I have fond memories of the way my mom smelled (Chanel No 5 during the '70s) and the smells of her kitchen too. We would have her homemade pizza every Saturday night. We watched The Muppet Show from our kitchen table my dad built. Kermit was smaller then on the 18-inch color television that wasn't even remote control yet.
But I also have memories of my mom when I was in high school and college. The morning after a late night out, she would sit on my bed while I would sip a cup of tea she brought me. I'd share details of the night like I would share to a girlfriend. I would preface certain stories with, "OK, you're not my mom right now with what I'm going to tell you." And she would listen without raising an eyebrow. She didn't judge or scoff. Let's be real, though; I was a pretty square kid. I didn't really drink, I never did drugs, I was usually home by midnight, and my male conquests were theater boys I would crush on from afar only to find out they were gay. Translation: I didn't get much action in college!
So there really wasn't a whole lot for her to judge me on anyway. BUT, I still felt comfortable sharing all my funny stories, crazy happenings when there were some, and girl to girl details only other women get.
I remember one time either in my early adult years or when I was still in high school, my mom and I were having a heart-to-heart. In one of her somewhat bleak moments, she said to me with tears in her eyes, "You know, I could have been a lot of things. Maybe a doctor. Maybe a scientist. But I'm just a mom."
It broke my heart. How could this woman not be satisfied with anything more than being my mom? Had she been a career woman and not stayed home with her kids, what would life have been like? Selfishly, I was glad this was all she was. My mom. Our mom.
But I told her that she is more than "Just a Mom." She is patience, and trust, nurture and light. She helps the downtrodden, she advocates for the helpless. She friends the homeless and the addicts. She counsels the stranger with which she strikes up conversation.
She is an amazing woman that is more than just a mom. But a person who betters this world just by living in it. She raised me and my brother and sister. She looks after my dad and is his partner of 55 years. She reads and swallows up information by the libraries. She is one of the smartest people I know. She can cook up a pie crust and help you with your 401(k) paperwork. I don't know how this woman does it.
Did I mention she moved here from Germany when she was 17 after marrying my dad? They had my brother a few years later and within less than 10 years had their own two children and fostered troubled children. Mixed race children in the '60s! They took a road trip with their Black foster daughter and their own two children down to Atlanta. The guts they had. This is how my parents live. By example.
So, yeah. You turn 73 with three grown kids of your own, four grandchildren, a husband you've been married to for 55 years; you wear that age proudly.
And mom, if you ever think you're "just a mom" and there was something else you could have been, think for a minute the lives you've touched. The ripple effect of what your living has created. How there should be more people like you that are as selfless, reliable and loving. I have never been more proud of you to just be my mom.