My beautiful mother, who turned 75 yesterday, raised my brother and me single-handedly, sometimes holding down three jobs.

She may not have had time to teach me how to cook, (I taught myself, starting at age four with the Jello I dumped into the top – perforated – half of a double-boiler, then stuck in the oven), we almost killed each other when she tried to teach me how to drive a stick-shift, but she passed along a strong work-ethic. And she taught me one very important skill: self-reliance. Don’t wait for someone to do it for you, or even help. Just do it*.

As a single woman living in the big city, my life is more Rhoda Morgenstern than Carrie Bradshaw, but I can take care of myself, and very well, thank you. I work hard, I play hard and I make a lot of messes for myself, but I always get myself out of them. I don’t call in sick unless there is blood or explosive something-or-other involved. I build my own bookshelves and cabinets and install my own shower heads and air conditioners. It would never occur to me that I couldn’t or shouldn’t do any of these things. I watched my mother do them.

To this day I’m likely to find her on top of a ladder hanging her own curtains. A couple of years ago, she feng shui-ed my entire apartment, rearranging the furniture, including a 200 lb television, by herself. I was in the hospital and couldn’t stop her. When I express dismay or suggest that perhaps she should not still be doing these things, she just gives me a self-satisfied smile.

Mom finally retired last year. For the first time since she was a teenager she doesn’t have to be anywhere on anyone else’s clock. She hasn’t really slowed down though. She and her husband are constantly on the move, either travelling or working on new projects. They just bought a new house and she’s remodeling the kitchen. Thankfully,  Mom’s been persuaded not to try to move the appliances. She won’t compromise on the ladder.

Naturally, I plan to be just like her when I grow up.

Happy belated birthday Mom.  Raaawwwrrr!


*Remember the stick shift? After Mom threw in the towel rather than commit filicide, she left on a business trip. There was no way I was going to let that car sit around undriven. So I got in and drove it down the street, teaching myself  how to drive a stick.

I know it’s not Mother’s Day, but is there something yours taught you that you’re particularly proud of, or just something that gives you a feeling of satisfaction or accomplishment whenever you do it? We’d love to hear all about it.