Growing up, I didn’t give my mom enough credit. She worked a lot and often we were left to take care of ourselves and our little brother. Most of my friends were only children with stay-at-home moms that had the time and income to spoil their kids rotten. One friend who lived around the corner had a mom that stayed home all day and smoked cigarettes while she watched every episode of General Hospital and on Fridays, she got her hair done at a salon. I don’t recall ever seeing my mom go to a salon, so naturally I thought my mother was uncultured and uncool. 

Another friend’s mother worked part time and always made it home before Kimmy did. She made white rice with teriyaki hot dogs and had an entire room full of comfy couches where she and Kimmy would watch MTV with their wiener dogs. We only had one couch that was moderately comfortable, and we didn’t get to watch MTV. Lame. 

Cindy’s stay-at-home mom babysat the kids of topless dancers and let us stay up all night at sleep overs. My mom wouldn’t let us stay up past 10p.m. on our best day and said irritating things like “Nothing good happens after midnight.” My friend’s mom from Bangkok yelled at us in Thai but would leave us unattended for entire weekends (sorry you found out this way, mom) while she stayed with her boyfriend God knows where. 

Given this information you can see how I thought my mom was lame. She didn’t smoke cigarettes or have a mysterious boyfriend. She couldn’t care less about MTV and would never have made teriyaki hotdogs, but she did do a lot of things that still resonate with me today. On Wednesdays, her only day off, she would make elaborate dinners and let us invite the neighborhood kids. She made Chinese food and homemade pasta, the kind of food many of the kids in our neighborhood never ate. Some of those kids as adults remember it today. 

Once I borrowed an outfit from a friend, and I accidentally dyed it pink. My mom spread it out on her ironing board and scrubbed it until all the pink was gone. She made every costume and dress we asked for and then some. A few years ago, I called her and asked to make me two capes and she didn’t even ask why. 

My mom was Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny while my dad sat back in his robe and took all the credit. When we were sick, she took us to work with her. She answered uncomfortable questions after my sister and I watched Geraldo and Maury Povich. We had her work number memorized and called her more than we should have. She always made the exact birthday cake we wanted, even if it was in the shape of a pickle. She indulged my “Jell-O phase” in the late ’80s.

My mom is a woman of few words. She doesn’t gush over us or hover. She shows us love through her actions. Most of the time as a kid I didn’t see it and I certainly didn’t make it easy, comparing her to sitcom moms and neighbors down the street. I look back on it all now and I’m sorry I wasn’t more grateful. I think she raised us well. Thanks Mom for being the reason we turned out so good. We love you.

Happy Mother’s Day.