Happy Mother’s Day!
My mother is barely 5’2″, she is fully Italian, she speaks her mind, and she can make a grown man flinch with her quick temper. She grew up in a very small town in Ohio, and frequently tells me that it was her dream escape that small town, where her life was dictated by her very strict Italian parents. By the age of 21 she was married to my dad, and they went on many adventures together with their dalmatian, Psiren. When she was 26, my mom had me. She was many incredible things by then, but on that December day, she got to add ‘mom’ to that list.
Growing up, my mom was strict, but not to the point of refusing fun. She rarely allowed my brother and I to go to sleepovers, and playdates were never last minute things – they were always planned out days in advance. She insisted on Catholic Prep schools, insisting that she and my dad would make any sacrifice to give my brother and I every opportunity when it came to education, and , of course, she wanted us to be surrounded by the Catholic faith.
For the most part, my mom and I got along. To this day, we usually have 1 or 2 fights per year. As a kid, she and I did not often see eye to eye. We were, and still are, very different people. She has always loved shopping, social outings, and Church. We never traveled much, which she was fine with, and she never showed any desire to go out of the country.
I never liked to shop, I found social outings to be stressful, and by the time I was 12, I was questioning my faith a great deal. I found joy in traveling, baking, and taking time to be by myself, which she did not understand…. just like I didn’t understand the things that brought her so much joy.
We clashed quite a bit.
There were two things, however, that we had in common: a love for animals and a love for books.
My mom is an amazing woman. She has done so much for my brother and I, and I can’t put it all into words. The older I get, the more I realize that she always put Mark and I first. For the rest of this post, however, I’m going to focus on how my mom has impacted me in terms of reading.
I wrote in an earlier post (A Library Card Changed My Life: Reflecting on National Library Week ) that some of my earliest memories involve the public library. My mom fostered a strong love of books and reading in me by taking me to the library 2-3 times a week. She also constantly read to me. While we had a television, it was rarely on. Playing outside and reading were encouraged, while tv time was very limited – which was fine.
When I was little, my mom and I would sit in the living room chair with a stack of books that she would read to me. She always encouraged me to sound out words, and when it came time to read independently, she was patient and helped me find new ways to better my reading.
I was very much a child of habit and liked checking out the same books over and over because I liked knowing the story. While my mom tolerated this, she also snuck in new books at the library and encouraged me to explore different aisles and find new books to take home.
As I got older she would usher me to different parents of the library (teen and adult, specifically) and declare, “you read these books now!”.
If I could not come to the library on our designated days, she brought home stacks of books for me that she thought I might like. My mom spent a great deal of her time sitting in the teen section, reading the backs and inside covers of different books to find the perfect ones for me.
Many parents at Catholic school closely monitored what their children read and watched, discouraging many books because the themes did not align themselves with Catholic values.
My mom never censored my reading. She told me to check out whatever I wanted, and if I felt the content was too heavy in any way, I could just stop reading the book. She encouraged me to read books that made me question my own beliefs, and she never once monitored my selections to make sure they were appropriate. She trusted me to know what I could and could not handle, and made sure I knew that I could approach her about the content of certain books.
When my grade school sent a letter to parents encouraging them to ban the Harry Potter series from their household because of the themes of witchcraft, my mom went out and bought the available books and read some of the first book to my brother and I. (We never finished the book because my mom ended up not liking the writing and Mark and I fell asleep).
My mom made sure I knew that it was important to read about characters and people different than myself. She also brought home books on witchcraft and other topics so we could learn what it was about, rather than just making assumptions about it.
While she was worried that my constant reading would prevent me from making friends, my mom never banned me from checking out books. She wanted to foster my love of reading, not make me resent it.
I don’t know what my mom thought I would be when I grew up. She listened to my childhood ramblings of wanting to be a vet, teacher, marine biologist, and even a writer. I’m not sure she expected me to end up being a librarian.
As I inch closer to completing graduate school with my MLIS, I have many people to thank, but the first person would be my mom.
So, thank you, Mom, for reading to me, taking me to the library, letting me talk about books, and always encouraging me to read different kinds of books. Thank you for standing by me when life was difficult, and especially when I was difficult. I don’t know that I would have decided to become a librarian without you. You helped me love reading and fostered my passion for books. You never doubted me or discouraged me, rather, you provided me with a great deal of love and support. Thank you for listening to me whine about applications, assignments, and professors. Thank you for letting me cry on your shoulder when life felt impossible. Thank you for being a mom, but most importantly, for being my mom. We may clash and argue, but I love you and appreciate you and that won’t change. Thanks for being my #1 fan, my rock, and thank you for your unyielding support and prayers.
I love you, Mom.
You don’t need a special day to remind someone how much they mean to you, but today I’m glad to remind my mom how important she is to me, and how much she has shaped me as a person.