It's Mother's Day this Sunday; that's Sunday, May 12, make a note, call your mom! These are the women who made us who we are, the women who brought us up, the women who have kept on bringing us up no matter how adult we claim to be.
There's no shortage of great tales about great moms, from the mothers of the famous (Stephen Colbert, Patti Smith, Barack Obama) to your own. In honor of the upcoming day, I asked an array of writers and Internet folk to share stories that demonstrate the awesomeness of their particular moms. Moms: They've copy edited our work, made us the tacos we like, hugged us into feeling better, made sure we were alive, inspired us in our own careers, made us laugh, and generally tried to make us better people. Without them, we would be nowhere. Yay, Mom. Yay, moms.
Our Mothers, Our Happiness-Protectors
David Cho, publisher, Grantland: When I was six, our family had no money at all, and a treat for me then (and tbqh, I still love it) would be a trip to Taco Bell for a Mexican Pizza (two hard, flat, corn tortilla shells, with refried beans and ground meat in between, with melted cheese and diced tomatoes, black olives, and scallions on top). It was the best.
Then, one time, my mother, who is incredibly nice and just wanted me to be happy more regularly than the occasions when they could take me to Taco Bell, swallowed her pride and asked the worker at Taco Bell if she could buy just the corn tortilla shells for me so that she could make the Mexican Pizza for me at home. The worker doesn't know if that's allowed, asks his manager, and they're all just like, "Sure, why not." We get home and my mom goes through all the trouble to make this whole thing, and gives it to me. It tastes pretty good! She asks 6-year-old me how it is, and like the completely unaware assholes that 6-year-olds can be, I say, "It's good, but not as good as the one at Taco Bell!" I don't remember much, but I have a very vivid image in my brain of how much her face sunk in disappointment.
Twenty years later, I was randomly talking about this story with my mom and I told her I was sorry for being such a jerk (it hadn't come up before then). But my mom didn't remember the whole, "not good as Taco Bell," part of the story and just recalled that I liked it. And this is precisely why moms are great, because not only will they do anything they can for you to be happy, but they'll do it while also actively forgetting instances when you are a dickhead.
Our Mothers, Cool Even When They're Mortifying
In retrospect, of course, I can see that my mom is actually pretty cool, and that her day in that classroom was probably the most educational sex ed class that school building has ever seen. What's more, I can see that at that time she was starting to be overwhelmed by the fanmail response to Speak, which as you can imagine, can be devastating, and was beginning to inspire her to be the lady who talks to teenagers about things like feeling safe in your sex life, and the importance of consent, and condoms. To this day she works pretty tirelessly on behalf of survivors of sexual assault, which is something I wish she didn't have to do at all, but I am proud that she keeps doing it even though it is heartbreaking work. All the same, I continue to avoid any situation in which I think she might talk about blowjobs.
Our Mothers, Our Editors
Our Mothers, Who Taught Us to Take a Minute to Iron
This used to drive me insane, because there was never any "running out of the house." More of a quick first step out of the gates, and then promptly sitting in a chair, pouting, for nine minutes. At the time, I didn't understand the peaceful, slowing down of time-quality of ironing a shirt, until I found myself incorporating it in my life. All the time. Yes, practically, but more as a way to slow down my New York life to a rural New Hampshire crawl, even if for a few peaceful minutes.
I am, truly, my mother's son. Yes, she birthed me, and we look alike, so that goes without question. But the ironing is what makes it the most real.
Our Mothers, Our Personal Superheroes
Plus, she gives the most comforting hugs ever.
Our Mothers, Our Keepers (in the Best Possible Way)
Maureen O'Connor, staff writer, The Cut: When I was in high school, I stayed late to work on a project one day, but forgot to call my mother to tell her where I was. She called my friends, who did not know where I was. Finally, around 9 p.m., she called the cops. I came home to find a patrol car in the driveway. Tearily, my mother described searching dark roads of our town with a flashlight, in case my dead body was lying in a gutter somewhere. It was saddest and funniest event of sophomore year.
My mother says she no longer fears for me, even though I live in New York City. This is because she follows me on Twitter and Facebook. (If I am silent for too long, she calls to check in.) She reads my blog posts everyday. (If I use a sick day, she knows.) She treats Gmail like a personal comments section, providing me with daily feedback, fact-checks, and LOLs. She emails when she likes my stories. She emails when she sees stories she'd like me to cover. She emails when she thinks I'm being "ripped off." (The optimism of mothers: they think our jokes are original.) After a multi-year ordeal in which she emailed every time someone talked shit about me on the Internet, I realized that my mother had a Google Alert set for my name. The Great O'Connor Google Alert Intervention took many months; eventually my brother got into her account and shut it off. We all agreed it was best never to turn it on again.
An avid consumer of online media, my mother keeps me abreast of her daily reading routines. And so, Mom, here I am—and here you are, too! Thank you for supporting and inspiring me. Happy Mother's Day to the best gossip blogger ever to write for an audience of one, her daughter. Let's talk by email tonight.
Our Mothers, Who Pushed Us
Also, it appears I have inherited her colorful language. A family heirloom, if you will.
Our Mothers, Our Defenders
So when my mom did let us cut the corners, we cherished it. I was 14 or so at the time, and terribly behind my Catholic Confirmation training. In order to make up service hours, I was to partake in a 30-hour pledged fast on school grounds. My mouth tasted of cheeseburger and soda when I told her this news (my mother is also a fan of In-N-Out) and showed her the form from school. She eyed the paper. She then looked at the scraggly pile of bones her 14-year-old son was, perhaps thought about what a 30-hour fast would do to him, and put her burger down. "Well ..." she said, smirking. "That's (insert Tagalog curse word) ridiculous." We giggled. We ate our burgers. She later would write a note, getting me out of most of that ordeal.
Our Mothers, Arbiters of Taste
On the other hand, when my mother sees something she deems to be important: a limited edition art book so heavy it could double as a weapon, a rare Inuit sculpture of a walrus, or an antique child’s shoe from Japan, she’ll buy it without a moment’s hesitation. Even when these purchases extend into the four-figures, she will get a gleam in her eye that says, “I got a bargain.” She will, in fact, brag to me that she got a 7-pack of Tupperware at her local Walgreens for 99 cents, and in the next breath tell me I should start collecting art. This is probably why I will smuggle a bag of pre-popped Newman’s Own popcorn into the movie theatre in my purse, but don’t so much as flinch when I click purchase on the pair of tickets to India that cost more than a month’s rent. My 9-month-old son is often garbed in hand-me-downs, but I don’t think twice about a beautiful handmade baby book. To my mother, and now to me, objects of beauty and indelible experiences matter; plush paper towels do not.
Our Mothers, Our Gchat Therapists
On Gchat my mom serves as my best friend and my therapist. Sometimes our Gchats are about funny things we see online, sometimes they are about stresses in our lives and work (more about mine than hers, admittedly, but she's good to me that way). You hear a lot of complaints about parents adopting Facebook and other modern contrivances, but I wouldn't give up my Gchats with my mom for anything.
Our Mothers, Our Inspirations
Our Mothers, All of Them
Foster Kamer, senior editor, Complex magazine: I am, if anything, really one of those "it takes a village" types. And while I've really only had one Dad, or fatherly, or paternal figure in my life, I've had a lot of moms. A lot. There's my mom by birth, Bonnie. Growing up, there were my moms in my family: a grandmother and two aunts, all of whom were equally critical and especially caring in ways my birth mom wasn't always perfect at. The moms of my friends: Jarrett's mom, Wendy; Rebekah's mom, Diane; Henry's mom, Mimi. There's an entire treatise to be written about the mothers of some of my girlfriends, whose daughters were only the beginning of a case for what incredible women they are. One of them, Patti, I saw more often after her daughter and I broke up, as she, her partner, and I became common brunch companions. Even today, my girlfriend's mom, Nancy, is a crucial center of gravity for grace, warmth, and humor in my life.
Our Mothers, Who Gave Us (Sick) Senses of Humor
Jen Doll (in the middle of the photo at right): Though there are many, there is one story that might example this best. When I was a baby my mother and father lived in Houston, Texas. My parents at that time had a big, white van (it was the '70s), and on one trip in that van, on a hot, dry day, we stopped by the side of the road so my parents could change my diaper. Someone in truck drove by and shouted, "Nice baby!" then asked if my parents wanted to trade said baby for a six-pack of cold beer. In my mother's retellings to me, her retort was, "We had to think about it for a few minutes. But we kept you!" followed by raucous laughter. Any of this could be true and it could be false, but I chose to believe it. The rest, as they say, is history.