Gifts from Mom

I’ve been thinking a lot about where I come from lately.  I’ve been pondering the questions of why I do the things that I do, where do my ideas and motivations stem from, how am I set up to succeed or fail in certain situations or aspects of my life, and the list goes on. Why am I the person that I am?  But most of all, I wonder why I choose my current path.  I wonder how I managed the skills and enough courage to leave everything I built for myself behind, travel the world and seek the things that are important to me.  After all of this thinking, I kept coming back to an obvious answer, my Mom.

In light of it being Mother’s Day and the fact that I’m currently 4,649 miles (yes, I Googled this) across the Atlantic and cannot deliver a tangible gift to my Mom, I thought I’d write about, not only a few of the skills, talents or great personality traits that all reside within my Mom, but the GIFTS.  The truly wonderful, unique morsels of magic that are wrapped up within her that I was lucky enough to observe throughout my life and even obtain some myself.  There’s no doubt that I wouldn’t be, do, or have these aspirations without her.

If I could be this happy forever.  My favorite picture of my Mom.  

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She’s a saver AND a spender.  I know this sounds contradictory so let me explain myself. My Mom grew up on a farm in rural Minnesota and is the youngest of 6 sisters.  She is no stranger to hand me downs, not wasting food, sharing a room her whole life, working for and paying her own college tuition, and many other money saving techniques. While I was growing up, my Mom was a avid coupon clipper, and would most times say “no” to frivolous things that Blake (my younger brother) and I wanted. Lunchables were definitely on this list because they were more expensive and less healthy than our good old homemade PBJ’s.  Today, she still shops with Kohl’s Cash and drinks boxed wine.

On the other hand, she is happy to spend more money on things that are important to her or make her happy.  She is a big fan of going out to lunch and will never, ever let me pay. Her and my Dad decided to splurge and bought a boat a few years ago, which they really enjoy together and with us whenever we can.  But, the best example is that her and I spent over $20 on candy in Flagstaff, Arizona and didn’t regret it for one second.

Basically, she knows how to prioritize her spending.  Skimp on the things that aren’t as important in order to use your money where you will reap the benefits the most.

Benefits were definitely reaped from this family cruise in 2008.  Seeing my Dad perform as Elton John was priceless. (Sorry Dad)

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She will forever have a young heart and soul.  My Mom is FUN!  Truth be told, I wish I received more of this trait from her.  She is funny, loves to laugh, and can be a total weirdo (in a great way).  The sounds of my Mom, her sisters, and my Grandma signing their hearts out to Winter Wonderland and laughing hysterically afterwards will be burned in my happy memories file forever.

She is always up for having a great time.  I cannot remember an instance where she turned down a chance to do something fun.  I believe this makes her open to new experiences because she’s easily able to fit in anywhere or with anyone; whether its eating Dim Sum in San Francisco’s Chinatown, taking a shot of Jameson on St. Patrick’s Day, or tasting a beef tongue taco in Mexico.  She has a lively, happy spirit and it completely shines through.  My Mom is someone you would describe as “being full of life”.

That Jameson shot on St. Patrick’s Day.

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She still snorkels, hikes in the woods, ice skates, rides bikes, and exercises almost everyday which provides a great role model for me to always stay active, fit, and young.  We are constantly asked if we are sisters because she looks so much younger and obviously amazing!

I forgot to mention that she is a speed demon on an ATV. 

christie and mom in thunderdome

She keeps and loves tradition.  I think tradition is so crucial.  Not only do I think following traditions helps to preserve culture, but it gives us a reason to continue to do things that we enjoy or find important.  Hell, even if it’s just an excuse to spend time together, eat delicious food, and drink.  My Mom works so hard to keep tradition alive that one time when we were kids, Blake threw a fit and cried because we didn’t eat pizza on a Friday night (which was custom then and still is today).

If we are not together on my birthday, I receive a phone call every year without fail from my parents singing “Happy Birthday” (usually with their dog Bijou barking in the background) which was started by my Mom’s parents many years ago.  If we are together, I still get the same rendition of the song (with or without Bijou).  Dan has also been fortunate enough to receive these calls each year.

Four years ago, my Mom and I also started to take an annual Mother/Daughter trip.  We were inspired to do this by my Dad, Grandpa, and Uncles who do the same.  It’s such a good excuse for us to spend quality time together, create memories, and usually drink a decent amount of margaritas.  Not only does it feed my wanderlust addiction, but I get to share that passion and side of myself with my Mom.

Third annual trip in Sedona, Arizona. 

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She adapts well to change.  Since I’ve been alive, my parents have moved, a lot.  They’ve lived in three different states (one of them twice) and had to start over again all those times making new friends, meeting new neighbors (and dealing with new neighbors), getting my brother and I settled, creating a brand new home, etc.  Each time my parents have moved, I’ve watched my Mom seamlessly (to me at least) build a new life for herself.  I’m pretty sure I took moving to Indiana way worse than she did and honestly, she had so much more to deal with!  She would slowly build her garden again, decorate our house, and I don’t remember her ever complaining.  (I wish I could say the same for myself).

My brother and I have also not really chosen the most conventional paths to follow.  We both graduated college and were settled in steady jobs with cats, apartments, and myself happily married.  Then somewhere around the same time we both decide to uproot ourselves to try something new, take turns back and forth living at home again, and pretty much gave up stability in the traditional sense.  Although she wasn’t always warm to these ideas at first, she has taken what we both are doing in stride and has been supportive.  She has been able to alter her former mindset and comfort level of our previous lives, and opened up her mind to our current ones.  I have so many examples of this that I could write a whole book about it.

My high school graduation day.

christie and mom carmel

She is a born Mother AND a strong woman.  My Mom is the most caring, nurturing person I’ve ever met.  She cares deeply about the world; humans and animals alike.  I believe you can tell a lot about a person in how they treat animals.  And honestly, we should really start calling her Snow White because of how she takes care of all of the animals around her including birds, deer, squirrels, Koi fish, and of course Bijou her dog and Gracie my brother’s cat.

My Mom has been a wonderful female role model to me because not only is she a sweet, thoughtful mother who still sends me cards and candy on Valentine’s day, but she can also be tough.  She is someone that stands by her convictions and stands up for herself if she feels wronged or one of us is wronged.  She can turn into a real Mama Bear.  I’ll never forget when a woman at a family wedding punched my Mom in the arm (playfully but way too aggressively) and my Mom literally socked her back leaving the lady stunned.  Or when our horrible childhood piano teacher made Blake cry and my Mom yanked us out of those lessons with her on the spot.

She’s always taught, encouraged, and allowed me my independence to do, feel and be the person and woman that I am today.

With someone who was born to be a Mother, how lucky am I that she was born mine?

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Happy Mother’s Day Mom!  You are an absolutely beautiful person on the inside and outside.  I’m so fortunate that I had the chance to learn from you and turned out even an ounce like you.

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