My Mom’s the Ultimate Badass
A tribute to my feminist hero on her birthday
My mother’s 84th birthday is this weekend and I can’t be with her. I’m still waiting to be fully vaccinated before joining in big gatherings. But I find myself thinking today about all of the amazing things my mother has taught me over the years. You see my mom is a rock star.
My mother single-handedly raised 10 children: 9 of whom were strong willed girls, but all of whom received their bachelor’s degrees and some even went on to receive master’s degrees and doctorates. In the 50s, my mom majored in math long before there was an emphasis on encouraging girls to consider careers in STEM. My mom was one of the NASA computers in the 60s just like the trailblazers in Hidden Figures. In the 70s, when my mom was let go from her job because her pregnancy started to show, she took the forced time off to take accounting classes to be able to freelance and earn extra income. In 1980, when she showed up at the hospital in labor and the doctor told her it would be several hours before things really progressed, she checked herself out so she could finish some work and returned later to give life to me.
But beyond being a certified badass, my mom is the embodiment of living life to the fullest and cherishing your family. And so on the weekend of my mom’s 84th birthday, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank her for all that she has taught me.
Thank you for introducing me to musicals like The Sound of Music and West Side Story. I now pass these classics on to my children.
Thank you for teaching me to dance to The Chattanooga Choo Choo and Proud Mary. To this day, if I’m in a funk I know which tunes will put a smile on my face.
Thank you for instilling in me a love of Shakespeare by taking us to Stratford. The Arts will always have a central place in my home.
Thank you for taking me on special birthday trips like our trip to New York to see Rent. Even though you had 10 children to raise, you never failed to make each of us feel special.
Thank you for impressing on me the value of a good education. You raised us girls to value our mind over our appearance.
Thank you for showing me to never rely completely on a man and to stand on my own two feet. I will try to teach this same independence and self reliance to my own daughters.
Thank you for teaching me that money is not to be stocked away but to be enjoyed and shared generously. You only get one go around at this life and should enjoy it to the fullest, but you should also help others less fortunate along the way.
Thank you for letting me know that a flabby belly and stretch marks just means you were blessed enough to have lots of babies. You always showed us children that we were your biggest accomplishments.
Thank you for teaching me how to drink a Manhattan and Old Fashioned. Classics never go out of style.
But most importantly, thank you for letting me know there is nothing I could do or say that would make you stop loving me.
For these reasons and so many more I thank you for being my mom.
Melissa Manning first caught the writing bug when she took fourth place in a city-wide writing competition in elementary school. Though she succumbed to the pressure to choose a safe, lucrative career, her desire to write never left. She is now a recovering lawyer writing and living in Chicago with her husband, three children, and cat Kermit. Darkness Drops Again is her first novel.