Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Woman Behind the Camera

The month of May is a difficult one for me. In a single month occurs my mom's birthday and Mother's day, just over a week apart.  Two days meant for me to show my appreciation for her and all that she has done for me.  Something I've never been good at.  To say my mom and I have had our fair share of rough patches is an understatement.  I was the kind of kid that heard their full name around the house a lot, if you know what I mean.  I'm embarrassed to think of how rude and callous I've been to her over the years, now that I've come to realize how much she has done for me.  So this mother's day, I've decided to do something different and actually look back on my 23 years with my mom and show some appreciation.

Now the goal here is to get some tears rolling on your side of the screen, so if you prefer not to read sappy writing, read no further.

My mom always got the short end of the stick when it came to my affection.  I've always had a really strong bond with my dad through sports.  We spent a ton of time together practicing baseball and doing other athletic activities.  We shared my biggest interest, so the relationship came naturally.  My mom never had it so easy.  Learning to cook, clean, and type were not high on my priorities list so she had to drag me kicking and screaming through all of it.  It was an uphill battle to say the least, but it was a battle won.  I remember spending a couple of summers in elementary school sitting at the computer playing games.  Not your usual kid games, though.  Paws in Typing Town.  If you give me a minute I'm pretty sure I could still sing the intro song. 
I spent a lot of frustrating hours, under my mom's direction, learning how to type correctly. There was no way I was going to grow up, the son of a transcriber, without knowing how to type with proper form.  I never really enjoyed it, but I can see now as I type that it was worth it. 

In middle school I finally began to develop a shared passion  with my mom:  Music.  I spent a couple years taking guitar lessons in elementary school, but it never really took. When I joined the middle school band to play the saxophone I finally got interested.  My mom comes from an incredibly musical family, so I grew up listening to her play the flute, hand bells, and the piano.  I still remember how much I loved watching her play Pink Panther and Pop! Goes the Weasel on the piano. There's a point in Pop! Goes the Weasel where she would cross her hands over each other while she played, and it blew my mind every time.  When I took up the saxophone I was able to get extra help at home with reading music.  My mom spent a lot of time helping me out and it really showed.  Thanks to her help (and forcing me to practice every day) I progressed to the point of being invited to join the 8th grade band as a 6th grader, and later made all region band.  Unfortunately as I entered high school sports took precedence and music fell by the wayside.  I just recently took up the saxophone and guitar again, and found an old competition piece that I played. It was a duet, and my mom accompanied me on the piano. We spent so much time working on that piece together to perfect it. It's incredible how just by playing it again, I'm taken right back to that time when we shared the piano bench and played together. 

In high school I really started to make things tough on her.  For whatever reason there always seemed to be tension between us.  Any chance I had to get out of the house, I took full advantage of.  We had a lot of arguments that I still remember and regret, and I cut her down a lot.  But even through my hardened words she kept loving and supporting me in all that I did.  She spent days on end making a really special presentation for me with photos she has taken throughout my life.  My mom has always been a great scrap-Booker so her photo records are impeccable.  If you've spent much time around us, you know that my mom has her camera ready at a moment's notice.  She catches a lot of flak for it, but it's when she puts something together like this presentation that you realize the meaning behind it.  Over forty five minutes of photos, put to music, chronicling my entire life up to that point. Almost a thousand photos. 

 At first, I didn't really have much appreciation for it, but I looked through it again today.  You see I wanted to find some great pictures of her and me.  But I haven't really been able to find many.  That's when I realized, that's because she's spent all these years behind the camera, taking photos of us. She's so proud of my brother and me, that she doesn't put herself in the picture.  My whole life, she has done anything and everything to help me along the way.  Well today I'd like to make her the focus of the picture.


Thank you for everything.  For spending all these years helping me to become the best that I can be.  For making me type, clean, cook, and do my best in school so that I can be a decent, self-sufficient human being.  Thank you for making things tough on me, even though I didn't enjoy it.  For teaching me financial responsibility and work ethic.  Thank you for getting me out in the yard, pulling weeds at a young age.  It stuck! And thank you for all the little things I never noticed.  I'm sorry I waited until I was all moved out and on my own to learn to appreciate you.  I'll do my best to make it up to you. 

One of my most distinct memories from my early years is from a night with fitful sleep.  I remember you coming to my room and taking me to the wooden rocking chair, and sitting me on your lap.  I remember how you slowly rocked me as my head rested on your shoulder until I fell back asleep.  I know I've always been your baby and you've just been looking out for me.  Looking back I wouldn't ask you to do it any differently.

And remember, no matter what:
I'll love you forever
I'll like you for always
And as long as I'm living
My Mommy you'll be.

Happy Mother's Day!