Today is my mom's birthday.
I really don't know what else to say other than that. I wish I could tell you exciting histories and episodes of hilarity, but my mom is a notoriously private person. With my dad, though, I could do roll call for his second grade homeroom, right down to "Quincy, Rossi, Rutherford, SullivanSullivanSullivan and Aimes," because Aimes joined in the middle of the school year. He tells everybody everything.
It's not like I haven't tried to coax stories out of her. I could shove poisonous pokey stickish things under her fingernails, and she would probably just roll her eyes and smile and shake her head at me, like I was being silly. She chooses who she talks to very, very carefully.
But I'm lucky, because now we work in the same office, and I can see her. Before she was my mom, but now she's a person.
If there are rules, she complies, regardless of her feelings towards them. But she knows all the rules, and knows exactly how to bypass one while staying within the boundaries of the system. She looks all harmless, with her sweaters from Coldwater Creek and Naturalizer shoes and mom pants. Secretly, though, (and when I say secretly, I mean like superdupertripleswear secretly) she's calculating and slightly manipulative, but never of people.
She never lies. Ever. Rather than lie, she chooses not to speak. It’s all, “Is Santa for real?” and she says, with a terminating lilt, “Well, that’s up to you.” Conversation over.
She bakes like she invented the fucking oven, but she can't cook dinner for crap.
When I was younger and something was bothering me, she would silently make cookies, call me into the kitchen and hand me my little cup of dough and then just go back to accounting for things or whatever she was doing. She still does that. If I have a bad day at work, she just shows up the next morning with a little tiny Tupperware full of chocolate chip cookie dough and just goes on her way. She gets embarrassed and blushed when people fuss and gush.
My mom does crossword puzzles. Hard ones. She knows the names of Zulu Chieftans and the color of Benedict Arnold's eyes. Back when I lived at home, I started doing them too, and if I couldn't get an answer she would just lay a volume of our old-ass encyclopedia on the kitchen table for me to find. No note, just the book with the answer and I had to catch it myself. It took me awhile to figure out she was even leaving them there for me. I thought my sister was lazy or something.
For years, because she's so damn lovingly sneaky, I just thought she didn't care - but that's just how she operates. And I feel like a moron for not recognizing it when I was younger. It's so hard to see things from the perspective of others when you're feeling sorry for yourself. You know, I didn’t notice that she stayed home from work when I was sick, I didn’t notice that she listened to me, because her advice and answers were always so subtle…if we were to assign her a word, it would be esoteric, if it didn't imply pretension.
I don’t know. My mom is an introvert, but out of strength rather than fear. She’s brilliant and humble and sneaky and proud. She laughs only when she means it and shuts her ears when she’s reading a book, and even though she wishes her daughters wore flowery dresses and wanted to make babies, I know she’s secretly proud of us for plowing ahead ourselves with little regard for “supposed to.”
She has more tools than my dad and loves to garden and sew, but is really not an expert at any of them. She loves Gene Kelly movies and Romancing the Stone and owns every single record released by both the Beatles and Neil Young before 1990. She doesn’t drink. She wanted to be a librarian and became an accountant, so my parent’s house is slowly becoming a library, and someday she wants a room with floor to ceiling shelves of books and a track-rolling ladder.
When she was in college, she self-framed three hand-glued jigsaw puzzles of the Ballantine First Edition paperback covers of Lord of the Rings, which she’s read at least once a year for the past forty years. They’ve been hanging in the basement since I was a tiny person, and I used to stare at them when I was little, thinking they were just neat pictures. She never told me what they were. I figured it out when I read her paperback copies in high school, and realized that the covers matched. When I asked her why she never told me about them, she said, "Well, I knew you'd figure it out some day."
For her birthday, I'm taking her to a Kane County Cougars game.
So, you know. Happy Birthday, Mom-Who-Doesn't-Know-About-My-Blog. At least she knows I love her.