Happy Birthday to My Mother

Yesterday was my mother’s birthday, so this morning (because of the time zone difference) Tawn and I called her. As my parents age, I realize that they will not be around forever. This, combined with listening to the drama-filled stories of friends about their families, makes me appreciate what good parents I have.

While not perfect, they have been supportive and encouraging throughout my life. When I was a child, they set regular routines and clear expectations of behavior. While punishments were not harsh or unreasonable, breaking the rules has predictable consequences. Raised in the American Midwest before starting a family in California, my parents instilled typically conservative, Midwestern values that they summed up with time-worn sayings: If something is worth doing, it is worth doing right. A penny saved is a penny earned. Waste not, want not.

There were times when this conservative approach to life chaffed. When I wanted a particular new toy or didn’t have the popular brand of jeans and was reduced to wearing Toughskins, I didn’t appreciate their thrift. But when it came time for college and they paid for the tuition so I didn’t have to take on student debt, I saw the wisdom of their ways.

To this day, my parents lend supportive ears. When I face challenging times, they listen, nod with understanding, and wait to be asked for their opinions. Even when invited, their opinions are conservative, rarely intruding very far across the “you should do” line. Instead, they acknowledge that life can be tough at times and then generally encourage me to tough it out.

One thing I most appreciate about my parents is that our family is free of any psychological games. As I listen to other people talk about their families, I can see behaviors and actions that could keep a psychologist in business for decades. My parents raised us without using guilt or goading, without projecting their own aspirations on their children, and without seeing us as competition for their spouse’s affections. Drama was something reserved for the television and our viewing of that was tightly restricted.

Perhaps such a life, like the rolling fields of Kansas, is a bit boring by some accounts. But it also provided a steady, stable environment in which to grow and – another of my parents’ sayings – to reach my full, God-given potential.

0 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to My Mother

  1. Excellent tribute – the best kind of Birthday present! A Happy Birthday wish to your mom! I have to say I grew up in a similar environment and can count my blessings too.

  2. Chris, I hope you wrote this sentiment in a letter to your Mother since she isn’t on FB. I had to laugh to myself as I read it thinking about your conservative upbringing. Either you or Jenn shared with us once that your dad would collect the water in the shower in a bucket as one was waiting for the water to get hot enough to use and then carry it outside to water his garden! He has always been ahead of his time in regard to recycling and using resources wisely!

  3. I have always admired your parents and have great affection for them and your grandparents.  They have been gracious and kind in all their dealings with me.  Perhaps we have, despite our differences, a natural affinity.  All of your recollections resonate with me and with my own of the past.  Here’s to the example of sacrifice and understanding priorities.  Here’s to an eye to the future.  Here’s to a heart full of love.  Happy Birthday, Sue!

  4. Aww… Happy Birthday to your mom! This is beautiful.I see a lot of parents in you. The common sense, well thought out advice you provide to people here; the careful reasoning in your writing (including your restaurant and airline reviews) and your listening skills (ok – the last one is something I’m concluding based on what I know of you from Xanga). I also chuckled at the restricted TV viewing – my parents insisted on no TV during school nights.

  5. @nov_way – @SherryAngeLMysteriez – @crankycaregiver – @Fatcat723 – @Kellsbella – @aPieceOfTheSky – A special thanks to each of you for your nice comments and recommendations.@doiturselfer – That’s such a nice thing of you to say, Ryan. Thank you.@murisopsis – From what I know of your mother, I’m certain you had an equally good one!@ANVRSADDAY – Yes, I’ve come to realize that not everyone is as fortunate. Thanks for the nice comment and for stopping by!@l0311879l – @swcheng15 – Thanks for your nice comments.@Texasjillcarmel – Ha ha, that is very true but I figured a little public recognition would be nice!@CurryPuffy – @slmret – @hollynvghl – Many thanks for your kind words!

  6. @pstoll5 – While they aren’t on Facebook, they do read my blog, so I’m sure they will stumble across this entry sooner or later. Grandpa, too. As for the water collection story, yes, there are plenty of ways where Jerry was just ahead of his time!@albertmoore – Thanks for the kind words Albert. You have long been a very special friend to our family and someone we cherish.@ElusiveWords – Thanks for the nice words Matt. My father went so far with the TV control that he cut the plug and replaced it with some special-shaped locking plug. He would hide the adapter (we would search for it during the day) to limit the amount of TV we could watch.

  7. Thanks to everyone for your kind wishes. The birthday was pretty quiet, but enjoyable none the less. I need to clarify the shower water situation. Northern California was in the beginning of what became a six-year drought. This was a way to keep from wasting valuable water and still have our vegetable garden during the dry summers. During the dry winters we put the collected water in the toilet tank after flushing, a practice we still do 40-some years later. It is difficult to determine how much money we’ve saved on water bills over the years.Jenn and Chris were recipients of the values Jerry and I were raised with. Our parents grew up during the Depression and experienced various levels of poverty during their childhoods. We were blessed to have solid upbringings filled with love, fair discipline, and high expectations even though money was usually tight. We learned to be resourceful in all that we had and did. I’m glad we were able to pass those values on to our children, and, hopefully, our granddaughters.

  8. Having now been a live-in teacher/faux-parent, I really began to recognize a lot of the merits of my father’s child-rearing philosophies. As a child, I saw them as unreasonably harsh and sometimes cruel, but I think a lot of that came from my mother’s insecurities and need to drive a wedge between her children and their father so she could ‘win’.Anyways, happy birthday to your mother! I imagine you and I were raised to share a lot of the same values 🙂

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