Without a doubt, my mother is my biggest fan – in my work and, in general, in life.
These days, she’s almost always complimentary. Believe me, it wasn’t always like this.
As a teenager, I struggled with her judgement, often feeling frustrated that she found it necessary to insert so much negativity into my perfectly good plans – especially since I already knew all about, well, everything.
At the time, as I struggled with her judgments, I’m sure she struggled with her desire to strangle a teenage self.
Now a mother myself, I have had similar episodes where I undoubtedly frustrated my sons in equal doses.
As they get older – both are now legal adults – I try to voice my opinions less frequently. Yes, I still sometimes have a hard time not rolling my eyes, but I’m working on it.
Likewise, as I grew older, Mom’s judgments of my youth, shall we call it, “exuberance” have slowed down.
These days, she’s just supporting, and it can have a very tranquil effect.
It’s not uncommon for me to see a quick email pop up on my phone on a Sunday afternoon or Monday morning. “Very good article this week, my favorite girl.”
It refers to my usual Sunday column. (And just to be clear, I’m his only child.)
Last Tuesday, I received a message from her praising not only last Sunday’s column on the approach to World Press Freedom Day, but also my participation in an event on Tuesday during from which members of the Youngstown Press Club read the names of the 82 journalists who died around the world chasing a story in the past year.
She called him “a very important thing you have done,” and ended his email with, “Proud of you.”
Somehow she always seems to be in awe of even the little things I do.
On this Mother’s Day, I have to say the feeling is mutual.
Mom turned 80 earlier this year. She still chooses to keep a part-time job at a small library near her home where she works behind the counter, helping customers and putting books away. It’s her “retirement work”.
I’m writing this column in my editorial office as the clock in the corner of my computer reads 9:08 p.m., so I had to get my work ethic from her (and, of course, Dad). Both have worked hard all their lives but have never been too busy for me or my brother.
Mom started working outside the home when I entered third grade. She took a part-time job as a bank teller. Over the years, she has held full-time positions and many different roles within the bank.
Before I was 8 she only worked for a short time when I was a preschooler and dad was fired from his job as an assistant manager at a local supermarket because as I recall well, truck drivers were on strike, making shipments to the store and rare customer visits. Dad stayed home with me while my older brother went to elementary school and Mom worked at a local sewing factory.
After the strike ended and Dad was called back to work, Mom became a stay-at-home mom again until years later when she went to work at the bank.
After graduating from college and working briefly at a downtown company near her bank office, Mom and I carpooled to work together. As she would tell you, I’ve never been a morning person. We still laugh about those morning drives when I said no more than two words from the passenger seat and she gripped the steering wheel, not daring to look my way.
She still drives to work today and continues to plug in.
I don’t plan to be working until I turn 80, but I respect her for continuing. She says it’s good to get out of the house and keep moving.
These days, I live about three hours away from my house and I don’t get to see mom and dad enough. Frankly, I would give a lot to be able to carpool to work with her again, just for the good old days.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, from your favorite daughter. Proud of you.