OK, so this may not be categorically true. Only one person was polled: me. I am sure your moms have done great things too and are superheroes in their own way. My mom turns 75 today and instead of a gift, she asked that the people who love her write a note to her or create a work of art. This is a little of both. Happy Birthday Mom. I don’t think she will mind this existing in such a public forum.
My mom has had many roles over the years, but I want to focus on one, motherhood. She has been a mom for 55 years now and if you added up all the years for every child, it is over 350!
And just in case you were wondering if that’s where she got all her gray hair from, then what about the purple or the blue?? Where did she get that colorful streak? I think it is from her sense of adventure and whimsy. There are so many stories, and I want to share just a couple with you that helped shape me into the woman I am today.
My mom had 6 kids under the age of 6. After they pick their jaws up, people always ask me how she did it. I am not sure anyone knows. When she had the twins in 1967, before ultrasounds were the norm, she fought with the doctor for much of her pregnancy because he was insistent that she was carrying one baby when she knew there were two babies were in there. Imagine the chaos when she brought those two home to add to the four of us (ages 5, 4, 2, and 1.) And what a gift when she brought home one more 5 years later to make our family complete. Even with her hands so full, there were many things she did to make each of us feel special. One of those days for me was when I was almost 10. She stayed home while my dad took a bunch of us somewhere, maybe to the Great New York State Fair. When we arrived back at home base, she had made me my very own bedroom (I think she gave up her sewing room.) It was very special to have a space of my own with so many in our family. Thanks Mom, for teaching me that no matter how busy or chaotic life is, there is a way to treat people like they are important.
Before I was even old enough to understand about social justice, we had other people living with my family. This opening of her home and her heart continued for years, inviting all kinds of people who needed a place to live into our lives. At first, there were unwed mothers and people leaving prison with nowhere else to go. Then we made the move to the Near West Side so my parents could be a part of ministry at St. Lucy’s Church and that opportunity gave us more chances to help and support those who were not as lucky as we were to have a big loving family and a roof over our heads. The two family house was big enough for our family of 9 plus. There was always a plus one there (here are the 7 of us with a plus one, I think his name was Tony.) The cast of characters would change, but the thing that would not change was that is was always a cast of characters. We sometimes didn’t know where our next meal was coming from and we all wore hand me down and donated clothing, but we were richer beyond measure. Thanks Mom, for showing me there is always more than I need.
Mom still lives in the same house where most of us grew up. While many have left the city and the near Westside over the years as the area deteriorated, Mom stayed in the home she has lived in for the past 40+ years and has helped to revitalize the neighborhood. I do not have the space to tell you all the ways in which she has been involved in the rebirth of her community, but I can mention that she has stayed active and involved since her retirement. This includes 17 years of service on the board of Huntington Family Center (a local social service agency) and she was a founding member of the Westside Arts Council. Most of her most recent work has been with the Near Westside Initiative in several different capacities, including peace circles and work with the Citizen’s Review Board, advocating for those who live in the neighborhood and giving voice to those who are otherwise marginalized. Thanks Mom for showing me that every person is valuable and has worth.
When I was a preteen Mom was very involved in our church, St. Lucy’s, by teaching confirmation classes, sitting on parish council, and as we got older she led a spiritual teen group, filling her house with teens from the neighborhood giving them love and guidance and a safe haven. As I grew older, I sought out chances to work with people younger than myself, acting as role model and mentor. I have had countless students and employees that have told me how I had infludenced their lives. Thanks Mom for giving me the love of teaching and mentoring and opening my heart to those who need a helping hand.
Happy birthday to my friend, role model, advocate, and Mom, Carole Horan. Every day is a celebration with you!!