Six Degrees of My Mom
Happy Birthday Last Week, By The Way

This is going to be a little sappy, but: I hope that all of you who read this are aware of how fortunate you are to know, or be proximately linked to, my mother. We had this 2-hour-ish phone convo last night, which I know I am going to regret when I get the bill, but which was just so enjoyable otherwise. Good gossip from all directions and sane, insightful advice too. (Note to the rest of my family: I love you too, and can write additional gooey endorsements here if you like.)

But really: Ruth Goodman is an absolute gem.

As the only child of divorced parents, I got the opportunity [foisted upon me] when growing up to really know my parents. When there isn't a parent-pair, you get a much more unvarnished view of parent psychology, because they don't get to tag-team each other during the rough parts. As a kid I saw my mom go through some difficult times. As a young adult I resented a lot of her extreme emotionality, because it felt unfair that during my adolescence she seemed more prone to whatever, self-directed negativity, than even I was.

Now I’m a somewhat less young adult, and haven’t lived at home for three years, and there’s thousands of miles between us. I miss her. Of course I’ve always loved her, and most always admired her; usually when I’m mad at her it’s because I think she’s doing something incommensurate with her usual high standards of logic and care. After yesterday’s lengthy yammerfest, I’m thinking mostly about how proud and happy I am, of and for her.

With a lifelong perspective (my life, that is) it’s possible to say a lot of things about Ruth’s Change Over Time. She very wisely pointed out to me that I don’t know her from before I was born. She says she’s a spontaneous person; my experience is categorically the opposite but her point is valid. Anyway, the center of the wonderfulness of Ruth’s Change is that she does: without making a big deal of it, without constantly inflicting self-discovery on the rest, she does the right things to solve problems in her life. I won’t embarrass her by listing details of her various accomplishments.

What I will say: it is uncommon to find someone so assertive of hope in the world, so proactively engaged in good works, and so generous with her friendship and her care. She is someone who struggles with negative self-perception (as do I) but unlike many people doesn’t make her self-esteem an issue for others. Instead she projects joy and love; she works to change herself without taking the project too seriously. She delights in her own wackiness, and celebrates strange habits and odd pleasures.

So, you-all are lucky to have my mom in your lives. Or just in my life. I’m blessed, that’s for damn sure.

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