Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day Mom

Looking through the cards in the rack for Mother's Day, many of the sentiments revolve around your Mom being the best. It may not seem logical that all Mom's can be the best, but motherhood may actually be an exception to conventional wisdom.

Bringing a child into the world is certainly one of the most significant acts of human effort. Captains of industry and sports superstars may have plenty of metrics of their success and achievement, but birth is a miracle that is hard to top. The fact that the majority of women are capable of achieving motherhood does not diminish the miracle.

Mothers sacrifice many things for their offspring and it is difficult to adequately thank them for their love, caring and devotion. Human children need a far longer period of care from a parent that other species which are often taking care of their own offspring before human children are barely out of diapers. If not for the years of time and devotion from mothers, few of us would be what we are today.

Looking at the cards stating "You're the best Mom in the world" is only just return for all the times that your mother believed in you even when you weren't as confident that you could walk, ride a bike unassisted, do your homework or the many other things that you were encouraged to do by your mother.

I may be biased about my Mom who has encouraged and inspired me for decades, but I think she is the BEST! At the young age of 76, my mother still inspires me. After giving birth to four sons in five years and then a daughter three years later, she was the mother of five before age 30. She then spent the following two decades being den mother, little league mom, chauffeur, cook, tutor and all the other roles mothers play. She followed us to school when she got a job at the local middle school where she became the unofficial mother to dozens if not hundreds of kids who passed through that school in the 20 plus years she worked there. She did all this while maintaining a marriage with my Dad (see picture)that is in its 56th year (I think he will also admit that he has benefited from some of her mothering skills...)

If that wasn't enough, as my siblings and myself moved onto college and started our careers, Mom decided to run for political office become a council person for the Town of Salina where she became a mother to thousands of residents, voters, seniors, highway department staff etc. Her efforts were obviously well received as the voters returned her to office for seven terms.

When Mom finally "retired" to Florida, she quickly became the president of her homeowners association and then when she moved to another association, she became president there as well. I am also proud to say that my mother has embraced technology as I am reminded when I can an email from her almost every day regarding some family development or a funny story.

My Mom is still going strong and is an inspiration to everyone around her as she just can't shake the role that she has performed so spectacularly for the last five and a half decades. She lives in a retirement community and has taken to mothering the elderly residents who may need some extra help and encouragement. When her 86 year old neighbor Ernie's wife passed away and had some health problems, he became her latest project with us getting regular updates as to how she was giving him the same care and devotion that she provide for each of the thousands of people who had passed through her life better for the experience. She has officially only been a mother to me and my four siblings, but there are many who have benefited from and appreciate her mothering.

Happy Mother's Day Mom!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Bring Back the Music

Having four kids between the ages of 17 and 24 gives me some interesting perspectives. In recent years, our music tastes have become more similar as they have borrowed my CD's and I have been introduced to some newer musical artists by my kids.

A few Christmases ago, this convergence was made very obvious to me when my son's wish list included artists like Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin and the Doors. As I attend live concerts of the artists that emerged in the 70's, I find an increasing share of the audience wasn't even born when the artist was first hitting the charts. It appears that during the 80's and the 90's, many of the musical artists of that era failed to have a lasting impact on even their own generation. Kids during the 80's and the 90's had a great deal of competition for their time and attention with the internet, playstation and text messaging. In the early 70's, disco had not yet emerged and many states had a drinking age of 18 still which caused many young people to revolve their social life around going to clubs and listening to live music. While not always great quality, it enabled musicians to make a living playing in a band that performed in clubs.

I'm not predicting that club bands are going to have a resurgence but I am looking forward to another era of great music in the not too distant future. This next period of great new music will be inspired by an unlikely source, the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games. These both have been huge successes and I'm predicting that enough young people will be motivated to create new music that we'll all benefit from another decade of prolific musical creativity.
Bring back the music!