Mom's advice started out early with, "You can cry all you want, but you're not going to get it" and "Don't make that face or it will stick that way." It grew as I grew into classics such as, "Make good choices," and my all time favorite, "Nothing good ever happens after midnight."
I would roll my eyes as I hopped in my cherry red convertible, turned up Dave Mathews Band and pulled out of my driveway, annoyed at her constant need to know where I was going and who I was with, and painfully unaware of how much freedom I actually had.
I had her trust and I tested it. I threw epic parties when my parents were out of town, I stretched curfew, I lied about who I was with and where I was going. 99% of the time, I got caught and 100% of the time, I learned valuable lessons. It turns out, nothing good really does happen after midnight and that the cool girls I wasn't allowed to hang out with really didn't make good choices.
While her advice was tried and true, it was her actions that taught me the most lessons. I watched her put her whole heart into teaching, only to come home and do odd side jobs for hours at night, eventually getting her masters degree and a real estate license along the way. She didn't just serve on committees at church and at school. She was head of them all. And she still somehow had time for Alabama's Junior Miss and Bal Masque after driving us to dance and cheerleading and basketball (ahem... for that one very painful year) practices. I learned to work hard, to organize, and to take charge.
I watched her artfully wrap gifts with intricate details because the wrapping is just as important as the gift inside. She taught me how to make the perfect bow.
I learned to love Westerns, all things John Wayne, and Big Valley, because she watched them while she ironed. She ironed so often that I drew a picture of her ironing in class and gave it to her because it was her "favorite thing to do." I did not, however, learn to iron. The dryer works just fine.
I make a big deal out of all holidays with themed food (heart shaped everything for Valentine's Day, ghost cookies for Halloween, sugar cookies at Christmas) and I know how to make the perfect J-ELLO shot.
I tri-fold my towels because that's the way she did it (and it's the right way) and even if my house is a wreck, my kitchen sink is always clean.
While all these lessons have come in handy (especially the J-ELLO shots), I realize now that I learned the most valuable lesson without even realizing it. She taught me how to be a great mom.
She loves me unconditionally. Forgives and forgets with ease. Can calm me down and allow me to use perspective with simple reassurance. Even now, as I carry the title of Mom as well, she is the first person I call when anything, good or bad, happens and the one whose advice and opinions I now crave.
And all those hours she spends selflessly organizing my kitchen, cleaning my house, doing laundry, and spoiling my child, she doesn't know that I am watching her every move intently, secretly hoping that I can be only half as good a mom as she is.
While I rocked my daughter to sleep on my very first Mother's Day, I read I Love You Forever and softly sang a verse of My Favorite Things. As my daughter's eyes gently fluttered, fighting to stay awake, I could hear my mom reading that same book to me and singing me to sleep with that very same tune. I couldn't be prouder.
I love you forever,
I like you for always,
As long as I'm living,
Happy Mother's Day, Mom!