Friday I’m in Love: Mom

You know the drill by now. Each Friday, I spotlight something or someone that I love to pieces. On the Friday before Mother’s Day, it stands to reason that “Om-Mama” should get top honors. I won’t bore you by enumerating all the reasons I love my Mom, but her influence on this blog is undeniable, so I’ll share just a few relevant highlights.

My mom was Eco-chic before it was actually chic, known for her crafty DIY projects made from recycled goods; her green thumb, which aims to grow more of her groceries in the backyard each year; her penchant for vintage clothing; and her early adoption of composting at home- a practice that’s all the rage these days- she’s been doing it for decades. I’ve long since stopped apologizing to house guests when my mom gives them the death stare if nary a banana peel ends up in the trashcan as opposed to the compost pile, where it can decompose and transform into precious, nutrient-rich fertilizer. All this bodes well for, since I don’t have to scramble to become acquainted with the green movement to share valuable Eco-friendly tips here; Mom made it a way of life for our house long ago.

If this all sounds a bit too predictable, as in I inherited my yogi-hippie vibe from my mother, that’s not altogether accurate. My mom would cringe at the thought of being called a hippie. Not because she dislikes nature-loving groovy folks but simply because she’s beyond labels- and she fundamentally disagrees with their choices in footwear. (She will cringe when she discovers that I have been coveting this swanky pair of Birkenstocks of late). My mom’s never done a day of yoga in her life. She hated the phase I went through in high school when I rarely washed or combed my hair or shaved my legs. She cannot stand the sight of tofu or even yogurt, and she swears the only time she ate either was when she was pregnant with me. Go figure.

Nevertheless, I draw inspiration from her personal approach to finding balance. “Playing in the dirt,” as she refers to her gardening exploits, is her meditation, along with taking long walks on the beach in our Cape hometown- collecting shells and rocks and appreciating every step of nature along the way- and, now, running. On her impressive list of accomplishments as an entrepreneur and community leader, the fact that my mom became a runner at the age of 47 should not be understated. After watching so many of my track meets over the years, as I sprinted, hurdled, and long-jumped past, she caught the bug, right? Nope. While my mom heartily supported my athletic endeavors growing up, I don’t think she ever really understood them. As a woman raised in a country where women do NOT run unless being chased and certainly do not sweat profusely in public, she never really had a desire to lace up a pair of running shoes and, for most of her life, would rather be caught knee-deep in manure than on a treadmill at the gym.

So, what prompted this foray into running at nearly 50 years old? Her competitive spirit, of course, along with her deep-rooted need to help others. She made a bet with a chef at my parents’ restaurant. He had acquired a few too many unhealthy habits one year, so she tapped into the alpha-male psyche like the master persuader that she is by challenging him to beat her in the Falmouth Road Race that summer. It was her own crafty plot to help someone else do something meaningful. Now, it should be noted that the Falmouth Road Race is 7.2 miles long, in the blistering heat of August, along with a field of 10,000 other runners, many of a serious, elite, and even Olympic level. Pretty brazen, right? The woman didn’t even own a pair of running shoes.

The chef, too, would have to overhaul his life to tackle the race: no more smoking, more attention paid to his weight, which had been steadily creeping upwards for years, fewer booze-filled late nights, and, of course, he would need to- you know- actually start jogging. One foot in front of the other, until arriving at a healthier, happier finish line.

So, that’s my mom. Generous, compassionate, competitive, a bit eccentric, unabashedly authentic, motivated, and motivating. That’s why I love her.

Please feel free to share a few thoughts about your mom or any mom that inspires you by posting a comment here. Also, what do you think about those Birkenstocks. Should I buy them?
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  • Joan

    Unconditional love. That is always how I will remember my Mom.