Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Birthday impressions

One year ago this morning, I sat with my mother at a table at Denny’s and ate a “last supper” of French toast and orange juice. I knew I would be going in for a c-section that evening (my first planned one; the others were emergencies) and I wouldn’t be able to eat for a while. I don’t remember what we talked about. Most likely ME since that’s my favorite topic of discussion. Or perhaps my wonderful kids and husband – my second through fifth favorite topics.

It was my mom’s birthday too and just the fact that she spent the whole day with me (and later with my kids while Ken and I went to the hospital) tells you something about the generous kind of person she is. She shared her birthday with all of us and now she gets to share it every year with her granddaughter. We thought it fitting to give Nora her grandmother’s name. As soon as she gets old enough to understand its significance, I plan to begin telling Nora daily that she’s got quite a name to live up to. “No pressure or anything honey, but your grandma is a saint.”

My mother deserves sainthood for the sheer fact that she raised 9 children and emerged with her sanity intact. Not only that but I think she did a fairly good job of it. We’re a creative, intelligent, ethical bunch if I do say so myself. The only thing I can hold against my mother is that she set a standard too high for me to reach. I can’t begin to list her many strengths and talents. Humility being one of them, she would probably be the first to say that she’s not a great cleaner or finisher of projects, but who really needs to eat off their kitchen floor anyway? (And Mom, even if you had gotten all those powder jackets sewn, they would still have gone out of style by the next year, right?) My mother taught me to make the most of the gifts God gave me and to work hard to make up for the weaknesses he gave me too. For years, she drove me back and forth to dance and gymnastics classes, never once suggesting that I lacked a graceful bone in my body.

My mother taught how to make killer peanut butter cookies. The trick, by the way, is to undercook them just enough that they stay soft as they cool. We had a smiling sun-shaped magnet on our fridge and instead of doing the standard criss-cross fork pattern on the tops of the cookies, we’d press the magnet into the dough balls before baking them and they’d come out of the oven with sun impressions still showing. I kid you not, they won awards at the county fair, these soft, smiley-faced cookies. My mom is the most creative person I know. She’s an artist through and through, never content with the ordinary, even when it came to a batch of cookies.

Maybe it’s stretching things, but I can’t get the metaphor of impressions out of my mind. In so many good ways, my mother has left her mark on me. She has molded me and given me standards (yes unattainable, but inspiring nonetheless) to live by. Her kindness, her grace in the face of stress, her unconditional love for her children: I hope these impressions stick with me as I develop as a mother myself. I don’t think a day goes by that I am not struck with wonder: how on earth did my mother do it???? (And I might add: how did she do it with 9 kids in tow and on a teacher’s salary and with cloth diapers and without Ibuprofen?) The process of canonization requires the candidate for sainthood to have performed at least two miracles. My mom worked several a day for 30 years.

I love you Mom. Happy Birthday. I hope Nora turns out half as cool as you.


Kimberly said...

I'm not suprised to hear that your mom is a saint, because from what I've seen of her, she sure has displayed those kind of qualities. What an awesome woman!

She's almost as cool as my mom.


Happy birthday to both your sweet Nora's!

Heth said...

I love that they share the same birthday. Happy Birthday To Julie's Mom! And Nora too!

An Ordinary Mom said...

Your mother could be listed in the dictionary under the definition for saint. My mother would be there, too, since I am also one of 9 kids.

Happy Birthday both Nora's!

My daughter was almost born on my mom's birthday. It would have happened if the labor didn't go for 36 hours and if I didn't have to push for 4!

Luisa Perkins said...

Many happy returns of the day to both your Noras!

allysha said...

That's a beautiful tribute. I feel the same about my mom; grateful, in awe, and intimidated knowing I will probably never amount to what she has become!

Happy birthday to the birthday girls!

Jenna said...

This post was like reading parts of my own mind! I hope your mom gets to read it, it's so beautiful. And birthdays are in the air, aren't they?

Klutzmom said...

Thanks, Julie,

I don't think I deserve all that but thanks anyway. I've always thought my children were "improvement on the old stock."

I think my own mom was awesome and that I could never live up to her as a mother, but you make me feel like maybe I came close.

Shall we tell anyone that it's really Nora's middle name (Deanna)that is the same as mine? It's such a mouthful for a little girl. I wouldn't mind my name being Nora after such a sweet lovable child.

I love you, and Nora, and your boys, incuding Ken.


Shalee said...

Well, I always thought that if Nora turns out to be half as cool as you, she's set. But know that I hear about your mom, I think I set the bar too low. :)

Happy Birthday to both your mom and Nora.

And seriously, post the peanut butter cookies recipe, would you? I've got a hankerin' now.

Radioactive Jam said...

Your three generations are like, the triple play of cool. Happy birthday! (late! D'Oh!)

Dedee said...

Excepting the peanut butter cookies, this could have been about my mom. I am number 8 of nine in my family.

I won't ever be my mother. (I'm not sure I could hande nine, honestly.) But maybe you are too hard on yourself. I bet you are the best Julie Q to your kids you possibly can be.

And if you pass on the peanut butter cookie secrets, then they'll love you to pieces!

scribbit said...

After reading your posts for so long I've wanted to meet your mom and the rest of your family--like your brother--because they all sound like a hoot.

I bet your get togethers are a blast.

Jennifer B. said...

What lovely thoughts on the impressions you mom has made. Happy Birthday Deanna and Nora!

Grafted Branch said...

Hi! I'm just surfing through from Boomama's place.

I love your expression, especially the sweetness of the cookies and your speaking so wonderfully about your mother.

"Honor thy father and mother..."

The Lord bless you.

Luisa Perkins said...

Hey, Julie, I miss you. I hope all is well.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Taking a bloggy sabbatical? Yeah, me too. I hope everything's well at the Tesserae homestead.

My baby, Melody, was born on my Sister-in-laws birthday. There was no way in generic Twinkie Hell that I was going to name her COCO to honor the event, though! If my SIL was named Nora, I probably would have gone for it. Such a lovely name.

Kimberly said...

I miss you.

An Ordinary Mom said...

Just thought I would let you know I was thinking about you. I hope everything is OK!

Anonymous said...


Many Nerds won't be returning. Some old timers I remember from last year, people like Trenchcoat Mafia, Silk Dragon Shirt, probably won't be coming back next year.
Spamming blogs I put their names up, immortalizing them, if only until the blog owner erases everything::::
1. Trenchcoat Mafia
2. Silk Dragon Shirt
3. The Distinguished English Gentleman
4. Beta Nerd, and of course
5. Rosie The Transsexual
Rosie's original name was just Rosie, due to his rosie cheeks. They shared he has a high level of knowledge, a tactic the gods employ to create a false sense of security. This of course is the segment which they dump so many transsexuals into.
I too enjoy irony, and therefore Rosie has now become Rosie The Transsexual.
Who else has a nickname in the NerdRoom?

I'd like to remind you many of the people in the NerdRoom are good men. I hope this is reflected in what they are allowed to learn and the progress they're allowed to make.
I'd also like to remind you their predecessors, REAL nerds from a generation ago who fill the computer swap meet, are WONDERFUL men, and since I likely won't be going again I want to remember them as well.

Actually the comparison of the two is a testiment to the devolution of society, which will be used as justification for the Apocalypse:::
Today's nerds are NOT wonderful men. They grew up with the internet and many consider pornography as an acceptable vice. They gamble freely, enjoy evil imagry in video games, and this issue is a microcosim of our deterioration.