Today is my mother's birthday. She's... erm... older. But quite young, as far as parents go. Both of my parents are. Whenever I tell people how old (or young) they are, people invariably say, "That's so young!"
Growing up, I didn't know whether to be proud or annoyed when people would say that. Despite their relative youth, my parents--and my mother especially--were exactly that: parents. They were just as strict and structured with us as the parents my friends had who always seemed so much older than my mom and dad.
My mother taught us that life is full of choice and with the ability to choose came accountability and responsibility. We were often admonished to be thoughtful and give proper consideration to any decisions we made because all choices comes with consequences. Over the years, this has served me well. (It has also been a liability at times as I can over analyze and that can leave me stuck trying to figure out all the 'what ifs' before moving forward.)
More than the rules and boundaries and manners and considerations my mother taught us, she also has given us the gift of laughter. There's rarely an occasion where we don't laugh while we're together. This evening was again such an occasion.
Mom really likes the Geico Gecko. She often says she'd like to have a conversation with him, which just cracks up me and my siblings. Last week, I asked Mom what she'd like for her birthday dinner. "Schnitzel," she said. And then, as an aside, she said, "I wish the Geico Gecko would come to my birthday dinner." (Her favorite ad right now is the one where the little guy is talking to a jellyfish. As the jelly floats past him, he says in his lilting Cockney accent, "Is that your face? (Long pause) Nah, that's your belly button, in'it?")
So, I came home and went to Geico's website where I found their little shop of hilarity and bought Mom a bunch of gecko goodies. They featured in our laughter tonight, as did much of whatever was the conversation.
Even when life is hard--and right now, it's particularly hard for her. My father has been unemployed for a year. I'm unemployed right now. The house my parents live in has been in unending remodel mode for 10 years (my dad's damn lucky my mom stays married to him. I'd have long kicked him to the curb by now. But that's for another day)--she continually manages to laugh and keep us laughing.
I think that's probably one of the greatest gifts she's given us: the ability to be serious, but not take ourselves seriously and to laugh all the way. As she often says, it's better than the alternative.