For many of us human beings, our moms are the heroes of our own life stories. I am one of those people. If you have not met my Mom, then let me tell you why she rocks on this day, her day of birth:
—for having reliable “Mom-isms.” A Mom-ism is a phrase that, according to Merriam-Herron’s dictionary, only a Mom can say without sounding ridiculous. When a Mom says it, it sounds caring, somehow. My Mom is a master in the art of Mom-isms. My favorite is the Italian accent she subconsciously uses when cooking pasta in the kitchen. I can’t believe that she convinced us that a mysterious woman named “Mr. Costco-rinni” was baking our lasagna and delivering it to our house every few weeks (only for me to discover that this generous lady was, in fact, a gigantic warehouse that serves really cheap, jumbo-slice pizza). “You’re a trooper” is a reliable phrase that conveys approval from my Mom. And if you like a certain food, then you are “Mr. [Insert food here.]” Throughout my life, this verbal pattern has given me multiple identities, including “Mr. Olive,” “Mr. Cereal,” and “Hot Cocoa Man.”
—for convincing me that I am funny. If I were a stand-up comedian, I would have very little money. But I would have one reliable fan: my mom. It’s dangerous to test-drive jokes and stories with my Mom before telling them to another audience, because she will invariably, genuinely laugh, making you think that you are the next Jim Carrey.
—for creating traditions. On the morning of Christmas, as most non-Jewish kids in America know, time passes differently. Instead of dreading the ring of the alarm clock, you lie in bed waiting eagerly for 7:00 a.m. or whatever time is the ‘acceptable’ time to walk out to the Christmas Tree and survey the bounty. But in the Herron house, we have a routine: we wake up, open the gifts in our handmade stockings (can you guess who made them?), and then we eat breakfast, which means: THE CHRISTMAS ROLLS. That’s right, the rolls that appear every Christmas morning on two platters–one with green icing and the other with red icing, one arranged in christmas tree formation and the other in wreath formation. Equally and reliably delicious. Were the rolls to suddenly appear with black and orange icing on Halloween, it would not be the same. I’m pretty sure, if my taste buds are as superstitious as my brain, that they would not taste the same at all. And that’s the great thing about traditions and, often, about Moms: they shape the memories that we share in common as families. Speaking of traditions, my Mom rocks for…
—for celebrating half-birthdays. That’s right–and you thought you were spoiled? On our half-birthdays (mine is November 28) a post-dinner ceremony occurs. One-half of a birthday cake appears on the table. Alongside it are one-half of a candy bar and a shiny half-dollar. Then, the song begins: “Happy Birthday to You! Happy Birthday to –” And just like that, it is over. Another half-of-a-year passed with a minor celebration. But it was not all celebrating in the Herron household…
—for encouraging hard work. There were the “Weekend Chores” and the “Daily Chores” which rotated on a systematic basis that was all recorded on two index cards pasted to the inside of one kitchen cupboard. On one week, it might be my turn to scoop the dog’s poop or vacuum the stairs. Whatever the case, the chores were fair and reliable, two things every chore should be. But sometimes…
—for teaching us the importance of delayed gratification. In part, you did this by giving us rewards. We could earn 1 cent per pinecone picked out of the backyard, a reward so tangible and productivity-boosting that I could almost hear the pennies plunking into my imaginary piggy bank as I dropped pine cones hurriedly into the bucket. You promised to buy us a Dairy Queen blizzard if we received straight A’s on our semester report. Yep, you heard it here–study hard and get a 4.0 and you will get a $3.00 ice cream treat free of charge. Seems like it wouldn’t be all that great of motivation, right? But somehow, with the Mom’s touch, it was. And on the day that my report card was in the mail, I did not have to open the envelope–I only had to open the freezer to see if an Oreo Blizzard was waiting patiently for me.
—for being tough. I have often said that not every 20-year-old guy has to worry, as I do, about losing to his Mom in a footrace. It’s not a bad worry to have…hopefully the genes will pass on. But watch out, everybody, because my Mom might look gentle, but throw her into a competition and she’ll give new meaning to the phrase true grit. She’s already an IronWoman, having completed that grueling, day-long triathlon. And now, she’s just weeks away from an ultramarathon. And she plays a mean game of cribbage too. Core determination that inspires me to tough it out.
—for being one that I can turn to. I take it for granted, but it is lucky when you can call your parents from across the country and know that they will listen patiently and then give their honest advice. Thanks, Mom, for giving good advice.
There are other reasons too, of course, but I don’t want to make you all feel jealous, so let me just say….
Love you, Ma.