My mom is a rare bird.
She and my dad have known each other since elementary school. They have been married today for 37 years. And they are probably more in love than any two people I have ever known.
They have lots of couple friends and a few close individual friends, but they are socially joined at the hip. They have a typical marriage in that they spend most of their limited free time together. Most every Sunday you can find them hanging out with their dogs, estate sale roaming, or heading to their glamper cabin up north.
They have your typical disagreements of course, no couple stays together more than 37 years without occasionally becoming disgusted by the other’s human flaws. However, what sets them apart is that they are always, unequivocally, a team. They have each other’s backs. They encourage each other and will work hard to support the other in whatever crazy dream they are chasing in any given moment. They continue to choose each other every single day.
My mom has worked for the postal service throughout their entire marriage. When she was 30 with three kids, ages 8, 6, and 3, my mom went back to college to get her teaching degree. Dad had her back. He helped type her papers on our ancient typewriter, then navigate that horrid dial up of AOL and the then new technology of our family’s first (now ancient) computer. She has not taught yet, but he supported her in the dream that one day she might.
When I was 14 my dad bravely opened his own pizza restaurant. Mom helped him tirelessly every weekend. She took care of us at night after long days where my dad left at dawn and returned far after we were all in bed, as he was required to be 7 days a week and 14 hours a day building his new business. We manned the phones (thanks for forcing me to work, parental units) most weekends to help, and seeing their commitment to each other and our family during that time most certainly shaped my expectations of what being in a marriage meant.
Marriage is hard. When I met my husband we were very young. But I saw in him what I see in my dad. Total commitment and unconditional love. The desire – the need – to support each other even when you really dislike the person or their behavior. The ability to laugh in the most stressful of situations. Pushing through periods of depression, anger, disappointment. Working together, a team, no matter what. Choosing each other, day in and day out. Dave and I grew up together. I am thankful everyday for him. I know I did not choose him by mistake. Having my parents helped set me up to be ready for this partnership.
Mom is the kind of person who has literally rescued HUNDREDS of cats and found them homes. She feeds the bunnies and crows who frequent her yard every morning. She calls her mom everyday to check on her. She once drove to meet me and rescue a turtle in the middle of the road, stealing a random dude’s garbage can and lid to scoop up the turtle and deliver him safely to a nearby creek. (Side note – she then dropped off the garbage can and lid with no one the wiser. Every time I pass that house I think, those guys have no idea there was a turtle in their garbage can.)
She works 60 hour weeks and rarely complains, even though she is chronic pain from an old neck injury. She makes what little time she has left over for her grandkids, stopping by a swim practice or soccer game to cheer on her little guys. She misses her Texas granddaughter terribly. One Christmas Eve she was so sick she was puking several times in the bathroom, but did she complain? Did anyone know this? No. This woman has not missed a day of work or called in sick, EVER. (She has probably given many people the flu – wait, this is also a flaw of hers. Sorry, Ma.)
Point is: She SHOWS UP. She will always take my call or call me right back. She will listen to me whine on and on about my most recent issue with patience and she withholds judgement. I find it humorous that I felt distant from her in my early twenties, and now I cannot picture a world where she is not one of my number one people. My lifeline. My speed dial. My mom.
She is totally a rare bird. My dad basically is, too (more to come on that guy, stay tuned). This is a good thing. Who wants to be normal? Boring. I look up to her for her social etiquette mastery, her strong political opinions, her love for all of us. She is so beautiful, quirky, and strong. She taught me to love music and memorize the bands on the oldies channel as she carted us around in the minivan. “Who’s singing?” is still one of my favorite games to play. She showers us on our birthdays and never for a second lets us forget that she loves us.
As they celebrate their anniversary, probably just drinking a bottle (or three) of wine in their living room while snuggling with their dogs and coming up with baby names for their new puppy, I am thinking of them. My mom, the rare bird. And my dad, her safe, supportive bird cage. Happy Anniversary, lovebirds.