Hallmark says it's there "when you care to send the very best." But I don't think they can even help me this week.
My mom turns 60 this Sunday, and I'm sure that she'll treat it just like any other day. She's never been one for glamour or fanfare. Maybe just some flowers and a balloon or two if one son is smart enough to remember. And she only has one son folks. Guess who?
But there's not a greeting card in the world with words that could sum up my appreciation for what she's given both me and my younger sister - not to mention my Dad. Without her, he might as well be eating spaghettios right out of the can ... just before heading out to water the garden in his underwear.
Not a pretty picture.
Still, Dad always seemed to get top billing with me when I was young. He was my coach in soccer and Little League, a swim instructor, my math tutor (electrical engineer), driving teacher and of course, full-time conscience. Really, "Fear Factor" has nothing on him. Truly, I'd rather eat bugs than think of facing his size-13 cowboy boot while growing up.
Mom, meanwhile, was always left with the crust of the family pizza pie. She plodded with us night after night of homework. She became an A-student in science, history, English, speling (whoops) and countless other subjects - only without the diplomas to prove it. Three letters why our science projects always won awards: M-O-M. And our teachers grew to fear her on 'Meet the Teacher' nights.
My mother always managed to make a mole hill out of a mountain. And regardless of the situation I've faced, she came through with the tallest of orders.
Funny thing is that my mother's 4 foot 11, and my dad is 6 foot 6. Here's where you insert your joke.
Mine, is that I grew up thinking I was going to be either a basketball player or one of the Smurfs. To you geneticists out there, make note that this is what you get when you mix the two together. Don't let it happen if you can help it. At least remove the sarcasm for the kid's sake.
But don't let Mom's size fool you. She's got enough spunk to corral and hogtie a school full of children on a daily basis - at least until retirement comes calling in a couple of years. Not bad for someone who with only a high-school education, managed to climb the ladder to get where she is today. Sure on paper she's a simple elementary school secretary. But ask any principal what a good one means to help keep a school running on all cylinders. On some days, they are the principal.
I guess she had plenty of practice with us three, and I don't know how she managed between home and work. Only now, with my own 15-month old running me ragged, have I seen the light. Frankly there have been days that the monotony has me thinking of taking out my daughter's Winnie the Pooh with an bazooka.
If Mom had them, she did a good job of keeping it hidden.
I'm sure the three of us will try to come up with the best possible gift. But in reality, we're destined to come up short of matching the effort she's put in on a daily basis for the last 30-plus years. You just can't win in this situation. Not without Mom's help.
She's always wanted the very best for us, and I have nary a complaint after 32 years. My daughter can't even talk, yet Mom's already built her a library. Some things never change.
Oh sure, it's not perfect, in fact far from it. When you solve problems for a living, you tend to keep giving opinions even though some times they're unwanted or unnecessary. But I'll take a sprinkle of bad with the three-layer chocolate cake of good.
Some days it's hard to let Mom know -especially on those birthdays when her only son can't think of the perfect gift.
Hopefully, this can suffice ... until the new computer arrives next week.
Dad gets a bonus point for that one.
Happy Birthday Mom.
(Chris Goltermann is a page designer for the Daily Herald and the Weekend edition. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 262.)