Happy Birthday, Mama.

It’s a bit of a daunting task trying to articulate publically how much a person means to you. It’s even more daunting when that person is family. It’s always a bit terrifying because I think you’ll always feel like there is something being left unsaid, like no matter how hard you try, you’ll never fully be able to capture all the emotions that you feel on a daily basis in relation to that person.

Yosemite Valley, Circa 2000

My sweet mom is celebrating 50 years of circumnavigation around the sun, and I feel terribly distraught trying to put pen to paper in describing just how much she means to me. How do you tell the world how much you love another person when that person is your sun, moon, earth, and stars? She’s the universe upon which my entire being revolves around. She’s the reason I find beauty in the world, she’s the reason I choose kindness, she’s the reason I laugh when I’ve spilled milk, and most importantly she’s the reason I see love in so many different shapes and sizes.

Crew Chief Extroirdinare

When I was very young, I think a ripe age of three, I remember my mama playing three songs as the sort soundtrack to my childhood. Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke,” Michael Jackson’s, “Blame it on the Boogie,”  and Carl Carlton’s, “She’s a Bad Mama Jama.” These three songs hold so much happiness to me, that whenever I hear them, the most immediate memory I have is my mama holding me in her arms and dancing around the carpeted living room floor, snuggled in her chest and enjoying the twirls and bounce of the Motown rhythm. Of course, we sang every lyric wrong and for half of my existence I really, truly believed the lyrics were, “She’s a bad, bad, pajama.” But that’s exactly the type of woman my mama is; she’s blissfully happy with the imperfections of life, and she’s taught me that that’s what makes life intrinsically worth living.

Sweet Mama, circa 2005

Perhaps I’m being biased (I’m not) when I say that my mother is the oracle. She’s this mecca of knowledge that can answer any question, solve any problem, and adapt to any situation. I’ve asked her an unfathomable amount of questions in my lifetime, such as, how to cook a perfect chicken, what’s the remedy for poison oak is (when you get it in unspeakable places), and even more philosophical questions like, “how do I get my shit together when it comes to finances?” 

Full disclosure, I’m still figuring that last one out. In all my twenty-two years of life, I’ve always gotten an answer and a good one at that. Sure, seventh-grade math may not have been her strong suit (is it anybody’s?), but you better believe if anyone in the near vicinity of our house came down with a cold or flu she would know the perfect cure and they’d be better by morning.

Prepping for my first grade communion

My mama is a broken record of jokes and songs, one of the things I love most about her. She still cries watching Adam Levine’s music video for, “Sugar,” and I think she’ll always pee her pants if she tells you the joke, “how do you make a tissue dance?” I love her comforting predictability because it reassures me that even after 50 years, her values have remained unwavering. And I know that in 50 more years (she still gets carded so I feel confident saying she’ll live to be at least 102) her love will only grow to inspire more and more people.

Mama and her sister at the lake house

And while the beauty of a person has very little do with their character, integrity or actions, I think it’s worth mentioning that my mother is the most beautiful woman alive. Her heart beats literally to help those around her, and I’ve been truly blessed to have been raised under her compassion.

There are so many more indelible qualities that make my mama profoundly good, but I think my favorite of all is simply that she’s my mama. When I run a trail race (infamously 100 milers) she is notoriously protective and determined to show everyone how far she’s willing to go to be there for me. I think she puts actual mama-bears to shame. 

But she shows up for you. My sweet mama shows up for everyone in her life, and I couldn’t be more proud that that’s one of the greatest things about her.

Post race hugs are my favorite

So all of this to say, happy birthday to the amazing woman that has sacrificed so much to be the best mother we could ever even begin to imagine. Thank you for your fierce protection. Thank you for corny jokes. Thank you for spoiling us rotten (sure with the materiality of Christmas but mostly with your presence). 

And most of all, thank you for being our guiding light, forever and always.

5-0 and off to celebrate in the Maldives

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