Today is my birthday. No, really. It is.
Thank you. That’s very kind of you.
I’m not going to divulge just how old I am because I’m about to start complaining about getting older, and I don’t want you old folks to hate me like the really old folks hate you when you complain about getting old.
Originally, I peppered this column with gripes about my premature gray hair and spider veins and thighs. These are all features generally attributed to genetics, so, naturally, I blame my mom for them. But as I was shaving my legs this morning and examining those gnarly purple webs up close, I got to thinking: Instead of cursing Mom, I should be thanking her. After all, she’s the reason I’m here in the first place.
This may surprise you, but I was not always the charming, graceful, world-wise, humble individual I am today. No, I was a downright stinker for much of my childhood and early adolescence. Truly. My crimes include breaking a fellow kindergartner’s finger, seasoning my parents’ coffee with dirt and throwing tantrums so violent that my mom sat on me to keep me still. On one occasion, my parents locked me in my room when I refused to go to sleep, and I retaliated by packing a suitcase and climbing out the bedroom window. I strolled, in the dark, to my babysitter’s house, and that’s where Child Protective Services eventually found me. I was 4 years old.
My mom threatened to ship me off to one of those “camps in the middle of nowhere where you build your own shelter from sticks,” and she probably should have. But she didn’t. Instead, she continued demonstrating her love – and stamina – with seemingly limitless patience.
My mom never taught me how to cook, sew or iron, but she educated me through summertime cross-country road trips, her infectious spontaneity and the kindness she showed to strangers of both the two-legged and four-legged kind. When I was a hopelessly awkward eighth-grader, Mom hired a cosmetologist to style my hair and makeup so that I might attend the middle school dance brimming with confidence. When I soaked my contact lenses in Visine and burned both corneas during a weekend houseboating trip, she rowed me to shore and then drove me to the hospital. She wanted the best for me, for me to be happy, and though I couldn’t always see it and often didn’t appreciate it, her intentions were evident to everyone – or, rather, anyone other than her angsty daughter.
Chances are, you, like me, are “over” birthdays. It’s embarrassing being sung to and awkward thanking people for presents.
Celebrating the day you were born simply serves as a reminder of how much closer you are to death. So here’s a proposal: We agree to dismiss the individual who, mostly through luck, managed to survive another year and instead honor the woman who brought her here and, more importantly, shaped her into the reformed adult she is today.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.
Megan Winslow is a Town Crier photographer and reporter. When not on assignment (completing real work), she shares her gripes and musings via "Winslow's World" at meganwinslow.blogspot.com.