When I was a child and I woke in the middle of the night and was scared or didn't feel well, I would tip toe down the hall to my parents' room, where I would quietly approach my mother's side of the bed (the right - always the right) and stand.
I wanted her to wake up, but I didn't want to wake her up. It felt rude, knowing how much she was sure to want her sleep and not want to be woken in the middle of the night by me. But I needed her. So I stood. And waited. Nightgowned and ghostlike and pale-skinned next to her bed like a horror movie.
"Mom!" I would whisper.
If that didn't work I would touch her arm. She would startle awake, patiently address whatever issue (however real or imaginary it was), and I would go back to sleep, blissfully unaware of how creepy I had been.
I remember one time sleeping on the floor in her room because I had the flu and was vomiting. As a certified emetaphobe, I just knew that being with mom would make it less terrifying. I remember waking and knowing that I was going to throw up - and also knowing that I couldn't bear to do it alone. So there, on the floor of her room, I puked into the bucket she'd given me instead of going to the bathroom to take care of urgent business.
My mom hates vomit too.
She kindly asked me to please go to the bathroom next time. But she still came with me while I cleaned out the bucket and waited for me to stop feeling clammy and dizzy. Never mind that she too hates vomit more than anything.
Now that I'm older and several hundred miles away, I can't creep into my mom's room at night or throw up into a bucket at her feet (not that I'd want to, 'cause that's gross - she was totally right!) but mom still has a knack for patiently and kindly listening to me and helping me with my questions and concerns about the future. She tells me that I'm wonderful and that she loves me. She tells me I'm beautiful and that she's proud of me. She doesn't harp on about my lack of dating life and tells me that she's confident that I'm a good teacher and making a difference in the world. Like every good mother does, she tells me that I am smart, and important.
Today it's her birthday. Not a particularly significant one (unlike last year!) but a birthday is always something to celebrate. Thanks to performing in a show and being sick, I've been delayed in getting her a gift (sorry Mom!) So for now, I want to thank her. For paper dolls when I was sick. For introducing me to Jane Austen. For taking me to Prince Edward Island and telling me to go to England. For letting me take the car to the library to feed my love of reading. For driving a few hundred miles just to see me on stage. For making breakfast for all of my friends and hosting infinite numbers of game nights and movie nights for loud groups of teenagers. For listening to every rant about work or dating or politics I can throw your way. For tickling my back while we watch a movie. For strawberry freezer jam. For orange rolls at Christmas and help in unique Halloween costume choices from a bookworm daughter (who would settle for nothing less than Harriet the Spy or Laura Ingalls.) For hugs. For loving God and sharing your testimony of Him with me. For being my escort in the temple and making my dress. For laughing with me and discussing with me and being the best Lorelai to my Rory I could ask for.
I love you mom. Happy Birthday.