Downtown Linda Brown Ayers

Today, I had the privilege of taking my momma-bear out to lunch for her birthday.
I know I've mentioned this before, but growing up in such a large family, one-on-one time with my parents is precious indeed.  Plus, there is something so beautiful about the way my relationship with my mother has evolved over the years.

She has transformed from the woman I'd try to coax extra snuggles and back scratches out of as a small child, to my loudest and proudest cheerleader as an adolescent, to my source of shameless financial security when my dreams shattered as a young adult, to the woman who sat across from me at lunch this afternoon as we talked effortlessly about everything under the sun - including, but not limited to: make-up, marriage, middle children, and Mexican food.

Anyone who has ever been around my mother for more than five minutes knows quite well that she is a force to be reckoned with.  Her sassy red hair and vibrant personality are impossible to ignore.  

I've never known my mother to do anything half-way.  Some of these efforts are incredibly public - coordinating my elementary school Jog-a-Thon, "crappy-chaperoning" more than a few choir trips (I promise this is not an insult), driving all over town making deliveries in her hard-earned pink Mary Kay car, home-made monkey bread for the entire neighborhood each Christmas, her involvement in Greeters and Toastmasters and with the Chamber of Commerce - it seems everyone in Salem knows Downtown Linda Brown Ayers.

But as I reflect back on my childhood, I am exceedingly grateful for all the effort she poured into our private family traditions as well: beautifully wrapped presents, jelly-bean trails on Easter Sunday, Christmas morning scavenger hunts, and the seasonal transformation of our house down to the tiniest of details (we even had a themed napkin holder). Once, she hired a limo driver to chauffeur me all around town and roll out a red carpet at each of 13 surprise stops to celebrate my awkward official entrance into the teen years. I mean, come on, who does that?  The holidays of my childhood were sheer magic, thanks to her.

My mom never hesitates to tell me she is proud of me.  She is the reason behind the confidence I have today. (I'm also fairly certain she is the one to blame for all my "sass" - that sort of thing is genetic, right?)

She's the inspiration for my loud laugh, my incessant need to dance and apparent inability to sit still, and my passion for music.  She ignited in me an appreciation for hand-written words of affirmation, musical theater, and eye contact.

I spent so many of my formative years comparing my relationship with my mother to those of my friends, but today I was struck by this undeniable truth: of all the mothers in the world, God chose Linda to be mine.

So blessed to celebrate you, momma.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I love you.