With an overabundance of shitty fathers out there I’m always appreciative for my own dad. The problem with that is sometimes I forget that my mom’s pretty cool too.
I like my dad a lot. I’ve written two separate pieces about him here, which I’d do again in a heartbeat. I’m lucky that as a guy, I’ve had such a great male influence, and especially as I get older and more aware of the world, I feel like it should be celebrated. The other day someone said to me, “Well, what about your mom?” which caught me off guard. I also like my mom a lot and count myself as extremely blessed by the outcome of the parent lottery. But now that I’m thinking about it, I rarely celebrate that relationship. And it’s not just a question of public celebration. I straight up underappreciate her more often than not.
Growing up, I always painted my dad as the cooler parent. He was athletic, handsome, had cool stories and he was in the Marines; little boys look up to their dads. And I mean, I still love the guy to death, but his idea of a good time is watching The Godfather and eating maple-walnut ice cream on a Saturday night. He’s into gardening and hates loud music. My mother enjoys going out and trying new things, traveling, concerts and has had Facebook for over a year now without once oversharing or embarrassing me.
When I think about it, she might have him beat in the cool department.
When I look back at it, she always had cool attributes. She’s organized and a planner, which as a kid I probably didn’t pick up on and as a teenager probably didn’t think was cool, but as an adult now, I really respect. She throws a damn good dinner party, and I’m not saying this in a women-need-to-be-able-to-throw-dinner-party way, but anybody who can plan and execute a Thanksgiving dinner for 30+ guests earns cool points in my book. And it was her and not my father who cultivated the deep love of music I still have today; I remember dancing around the living room singing “Monie Monie” with her as a kid and waking up to Linda Ronstadt belting out “Heat Wave” every Sunday morning . In fact, the CD’s I used to burn and bring to beer parties in the woods back in high school were filled with tracks like “Cecillia” and “Take it Easy” and “The Night Chicago Died,” which are all clearly her influence. She was never the “cool mom” that took me to these parties but was certainly a cool mom by influencing the tunes.
As I’m sure is the case with a lot of other mothers, some of her coolness was lost in the mundane tasks of making sure our clothes were always cleaned and ironed, our grades were caught up, and that, like it or not, we somehow grew up to be healthy eaters. She also lost the cool parent’s card because she spent just as much time being a concerned disciplinarian. If something happened at school or my siblings and I got into a fight, she was more often than not the mediator or doler of punishments. As she was a stay-at-home mom until I entered seventh grade, we did spend the majority of time with her growing up. I remember her saying things like, “If you’re father was home he’d be doing the same thing, so don’t make me out to be the bad guy,” which we unrightfully branded her. It’s funny looking back because she was the one who convinced him to let me road trip to a casino with my friends when I turned 18 and the one who kept quiet when I ran out of gas, as she knew it was a point of contention between he and I.
There were also a lot of the things my mom did that I didn’t like growing up, but that I’m extremely grateful for today. I was painfully shy and somewhat socially anxious as a kid. My mother was the one who pushed me to make sure that I talked to a lot of people. She was the one who made me make phone calls by myself rather than doing it for me and the one who convinced me that it was stupid waiting around for people to call you to go out on a Friday night when you could easily be the one calling other people. She was the one who chided me for rushing through work and would call out any lies or exaggerations I made. She taught me that sometimes you swallow your pride rather than getting the last word in and to realize that different people react to situations differently and so to plan your words and actions accordingly. She still reminds me to slow down and take my time with things, to focus on the positive and to try my hardest to always be nice on a regular basis.
My mother has never been shy about expressing her unconditional love. She made it very clear that she would always love me no matter what and that, combined with her accessibility and how I got used to having her always around, was probably to her detriment. As we’re so apt to do, somewhere along the line, I started taking her for granted. She would still love me no matter how snotty I was to her. She would love me no matter how rude or condescending I was and no matter how annoyed I got with her constant presence. The sick thing is, on a subconscious level I’m pretty sure I’m aware of it and took advantage of that.
I made the mistake of thinking that it was her job to always love and support me, and not do the same in return, so she’d call me day in and day out and I’d hit the ignore button and let her leave a voicemail because “I was busy” but then the minute I had a crisis call and lament to her for hours. I feel like it became very one sided.
It’s complete jackass behavior on my part. It’s embarrassing and juvenile of me to take out my anger and frustrations on one of the people who loves me the most. It’s unfair to expound about how awesome my dad is without acknowledging the equal role she had in raising and shaping who I am today and sometimes I think I might be crazy for getting so annoyed with how often she calls or texts or worries about me. How many people would give everything just to have somebody care about them so much and here I am, rolling my eyes at it? My only consolation is that I’d hazard a guess that I’m not the only one out there who under-appreciates their mother. I sadly don’t think this is a unique story. So I hope to change that. I don’t want to be one of the people out there who continues to let my mother unfailingly be the unsung hero whenever it’s convenient for me and rather want to be the type who talks about how she’s just as much a real hero to me as my father. I want to acknowledge that while I could maybe do without the constant inquiries into “is there anyone I’m interested in?”, she’s an unequaled positive force in my life, someone I enjoy spending time with and someone I’m unrelentlessly thankful for.
Before I blow her head up too big though as this great and positive influence, my mother is also the one responsible for my laissez-faire attitude about filling up the gas tank, my penchant for turning fashionably-late into irritatingly-late and the “buy now, deal with later” philosophy I apply to personal finances.
But I still appreciate her immensely.