The list of things I have to thank my mom for is long. Much longer than the list of things I've needed therapy for at her hands. Five things always stick out to me. They are: tolerance, parallel parking, moms as people, music, and sex. Importance wise, to me, they are in reverse order.
I am blind to racial, religious and lifestyle differences. I don't care, not at all. If you are a black, formerly Jewish, gay catholic, woowhoo for you. In fact, I probably won't even notice. It will annoy me if you're republican (everyone has a prejudice), but I can get past it. I once bought my friend Melissa a Santa statue for Christmas, she's Jewish. My friend Ali is Pakistani, for YEARS I thought his name was Ollie, like short for Oliver. My mom never made a big deal about anything along those lines, never gave a negative opinion one way or another and to me, people are people. Not making a big deal about everything made it not a big deal. Thanks for that, mom, I didn't know it growing up, but most homes aren't like that.
I am the second best parallel parker on the planet. I drive a conversion van, I can park it in spots where lesser drivers couldn't get a Volkswagen Bug. My mom taught me, it is her special gift. Parallel parking; the gift that keeps on giving.
My mom has always seemed like a person to me. I think a lot of moms get stuck in a definition formed by small children and it sticks with them, eventually it can become your definition of yourself. I always thought my mom was a really cool woman. She had her own likes and dislikes, separate from Erin and I and I was always aware of that. Because of that, I have a life of my own. I have friends, hobbies and desires that are separate from my kids; I think that makes me a better mom. When you meet your own needs every once in a while you are better equipped to meet everyone else's.
My entire life has a soundtrack to it, largely influenced by my mom. Play the Eagle's, Fleetwood Mac, Heart or Willie Nelson and my childhood flashes before my eyes; all of the good parts. She let me sort her albums and I would spend hours staring at covers like Linda Ronstadt's Simple Dreams or Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. We always had music playing in the house. For me that meant time spent finding music of every kind to fit my own soundtrack. Sweet Child of Mine by Guns N’ Roses for the summer I fell in love for the first time. Melissa Etheridge's first album when he broke my heart. A string of distracting dance mixes spent trying to get over the one that got away. Sarah McLachlan for giving birth to Aidan. Kenny Chesney for falling in love with Dan. Dixie Chicks and Taylor Swift for mothering twin babies. For 13 years, every night, I've sung one Christine McVie song to a child; Song Bird. After 5 years of singing it to the girls, the other night, they sang it to me. Word for word. I cried for an hour, I had no idea they knew the words.
Sex. This probably seems like a weird thing to thank your mom for, but it's true. My mom isn't really maternal in the traditional sense of the word; she's not a big hugger or kisser, she didn't spend a lot of time babying us. She just had good common sense. I don't remember a certain time when she started talking about sex; it was just something that came up once in a while. I do know we never called anything a “wee wee” or a “private”, we used names that doctors used, period. It was always something that we could talk about or ask her about. When it would come up she would talk about how it could be wonderful and that it should be something that happened when two people were in love, because then it was just better. It should be something enjoyed by both parties and not an obligation. I thought my mom was beautiful, but knew she was usually not the best looking woman in the room. She was, however, always "the" woman in the room. Men love my mom. I didn't know it then, but I guess I've just always been aware of my mom as a sexual person. That probably freaks people out, but it goes back to my mom making us aware that she was a person separate from us.
What that has meant to me? Well, first of all, I didn't have sex until I was nearly 18 and totally in love. It meant that I could go to her and have her take me to get birth control, long before I had sex, so that I could make a decision when I was ready (back when the only scare was pregnancy and you didn’t get herpes or HPV from everyone!). It meant that I knew how to take care of myself and frankly, that made me wait a lot longer to have sex, it wasn’t some great unknown, I could do it on my own. It means that from the first time I have always had good sex, literally always, even when with people who didn't know what they were doing. Sex got me my husband, a relationship that started out purely physical and grew from there. It's probably kept us together through rough spots that might have ended us without such a powerful connection. It's either genetic or learned, but either way it doesn't matter; it's true. I'm not a vain person, I tend to underestimate myself, I have days where I don't feel like I’m the best anything, but some things you just know about yourself. I am good in bed. I defy you to find a person who says otherwise. I, also, am not usually the most beautiful person in the room, but I have that something that my mom had. Maybe it's a sexual confidence, maybe it's vanity, I don't know, but I know I hope my daughters get it.
You wanted him? I dated him, in fact, I'm probably still friends with him and, I promise you, at some point, he tried to get me back. Since I was at least 20 I have always had that guy that everyone else wants, the popular boy, the pretty boy, the bad boy. Ah, yes, the bad boy. I am the proud owner of a reformed bad boy; ask him, he’ll tell you. Sex is a very powerful thing, and I have my mom to thank for it.