For many, Mother's Day is about providing mom with a buffet brunch, fancy flowers, and a ridiculously expensive Hallmark card that acknowledges all of the cleaning, baking, and boo-boo kissing.
When it comes to my mother, none of those traditional recognitions are very appropriate. That is not to say that Mom does not appreciate a good flower (or shrub, bush, or wild growing weed) or that she didn't patch us up when we skinned a knee (a squirt of Bactine, a Band-Aid, and a "you'll be fine" did the job), and she could bake with the best of them (using the 'close enough' method for measuring or following the ingredient list).
Labels are funny things. They describe and define, but they can also limit. Betty Millin was and is an incredible "Mom," but Betty Millin is anything but traditional. Mom is part Eleanor Roosevelt, Juliette Gordon Low, and Euell Gibbons, with a touch of Buddha sprinkled in. Mom is a label she wears proudly, but Mom would probably be just as happy if we called it something else:
Happy RENEGADE Day...
To a mom who loves to fight the establishment. Save Darfur, civil rights, fair treatment for refugees who fled Cambodia, and equality for women are all causes she has championed (and continues to champion). Mom does not just talk the talk. Mom has also walked the walk - in Washington D.C. in the 1960's to protest segregation, in Cambodia and all over the world to understand and appreciate other cultures, and in the hallways of Middlesex Community College as a professor in hopes of breaking down barriers for students who lack the support, resources, and comfort many of us take for granted.
A minister's wife is often thought to be a soft-spoken tea party host who quietly supports her husband. Mom always supported my Dad and did her best to squeeze her toes into a pair of dress shoes on Sunday mornings, but she was and is anything but quiet on certain topics. Her suggestion to the Congregation that century old hymns be adjusted for inclusive language ruffled a few feathers (primarily old, white male feathers). Mom made no apologies either. Mom is a renegade when it comes to righting wrongs, achieving equality, and striving for social justice.
Happy NATURALIST Day...
To a mom who has taken a bite out of seaweed plucked from the ocean to demonstrate it was edible. Mom loves birds, bird books, bird feeders, bird baths, bird calls, bird houses, and all things birding. She loves being near or in the water, and has a black thumb from "playing" in the dirt. Her gardens are always beautiful, but not with flawless roses and fine flowers. Her growings line the perimeter of her yard and the window sills of her home with diverse plants that she has dug out of the woods and grafted, transplanted, and willed to take root. Mom enjoys a good birch tree and chive plant, and she composts waste and never uses man-made (person made) fertilizers. Mom taught us to see the beauty in all living things.
Happy CONSERVATIONIST Day...
To a mom who taught us to use only what we need...and to want or need very little. Mom never lets the water run, turns off every light at night, puts on a sweater instead of turning up the heat, and has recycled, reused, and reclaimed long before it became fashionable or mandatory. She walks the 3 miles to and from work to save gas, even in the winter (a wool hat and a pair of rubber cleats over her boots work just fine, thank you).
Happy SURVIVOR Day...
To a mom who doesn't believe in aspirin or medication if she can help it: "Find the cause and you find the cure!" She once scoffed at her doctor's diagnosis because, "I don't have any of the symptoms." Mom has also lost much - her mother, father, sister, and a daughter, and while there is a great sadness there does not appear to be bitterness. Mom taught me the expression, "From shit comes flowers." Mom helped me realize that among profound sadness and tragedy can come grace and beauty - sometimes you might have to cultivate or tend to the crap life throws your way, but flowers can grow from it. Mom does not dwell or live in the past, but she likes to visit and appreciate it, and bring bits of it with her as she moves forward.
Happy EDUCATION Day...
To a mom who gets very excited about education and teaching. She has her masters and doctorate degrees, taught at the high school and college levels, and thinks math is one of the greatest languages ever invented (I can write a 10 page paper on why that is false). The only fashion Mom gets excited about are the robes worn by the faculty at a commencement ceremony. Mom loves education so much, I think, because information enlightens and teachers can influence and provide power to individuals. Education creates opportunities.
These are just a few of the words that can be used to describe Betty Millin, a self-proclaimed Citizen of the World. My mother is unique and proud of all that she stands for and her outlook was a major influence on how my sisters and I see the world.
Happy ______________ Day, Mom.
Thank you for being you.