Thanks, Mom!

-          By Michael!

Thanks for having me. Seriously. I’ll never know what that felt like, thanks be to God, but really – thanks for having me. Thanks for thinking I was cute, even beautiful, right away, even though all brand new babies look like wrinkled elf-potato-creatures. Thanks for bringing me home, and dressing me in ridiculous outfits that made you smile and thus made me smile. Thanks for cleaning up after me, which you still do on occasion, and for feeding me, which you still do every chance we have. Thanks for having me.

Thanks for having David, too. I'm sure you despaired about us for years. We were not interested in making life pleasant for you, each other, or anybody around us. But other than my wonderful wife, he's the best friend I have, precisely because he knows how much of an ass I can be and still loves me anyway. You taught him that. And you made us not maim or seriously damage each other long enough to figure out that - hey - it's kinda cool to have this guy around.

Thanks for not killing me. (Or David.) That must have been a struggle. Thanks for not skinning me alive for being, for most of my childhood, a real pill about having a little brother. Thanks for not strangling me in Macy’s that one time. Or JC Penny that other time. Or Bruno’s, FoodWorld, FoodLion, WalMart, K-Mart,  Eckerd’s, or anywhere else that sold candybars that we couldn’t afford and that I shouldn’t have eaten and that thus I would not shut up about needing. Yes, needing, the way a junky needs a fix. Thanks for not ending my obnoxious existence, and thanks for not giving in.

Not just on the candy-bars. Thanks for not giving in on any of it. On books, movies, and tv-shows that just weren’t appropriate for a kid. Or really, in retrospect, for anyone. Because they were dumb, and you didn’t want me to be dumb. So thanks. Thanks for standing firm in the face of the ferocious marketing campaign (and “campaign” here is really meant to be militant, it was practically fascist propaganda) that Kellogg and Post waged against family bank accounts in the 1980s. Thanks for putting your foot down when you really, really wanted me to just like you for a change and could have achieved that, if fleetingly, by saying “yes” to something stupid that you knew wasn’t good for me. Thanks for not giving in.

I already mentioned feeding me, but it deserves its own paragraph. ‘Cause wow. Seriously. Thanks for feeding me. Thanks for always having time to make something yourself, even with working what seemed to be about a billion different jobs just to get the food into the fridge. Thanks for always having the food, even though David and I were like hybrid locust/seagull mutants, devouring all with great prejudice and ensuring that Barber’s Dairy became a Fortune 500 just based on the milk consumption of our household. Thanks for fixing lunches for me that were always, always the envy of every person at school. Because they looked almost as delicious as they were.Thanks for teaching me to value a home-cooked meal as more than just nourishment for the body, but a way to express and share affection, community, acceptance, love. Thanks for always asking me about my day when you fed me, even though I was probably never thoughtful enough to reciprocate.

Thanks for teaching me. For teaching me that I am not, in fact, the center of the universe – but that even still I matter, and matter greatly. For teaching me about the God who is the center of the universe, and teaching me about the impossible, absurd, and beautiful love-story that is His Gospel. For teaching me music, oh wow, for teaching me music, the unbearable gift and joy that is music, for suffering through me learning how to play and for struggling to teach me how to listen. Thanks for teaching me how to read, how to pretend not to be a savage until it became true, how to drive, how to treat a lady like a gentleman should, how to keep calm when it matters, how to let go when it doesn’t.

Thanks for loving the woman I love. (She loves you, too. A lot.)

Thanks for loving the man I’ve become as fiercely and tenderly as you loved the boy I was. And for loving the boy I still am, sometimes. (Ok, often.)

Thanks, Mom. It’s not enough. It never can be. But…