Category Archives: The Mater

The Mater’s Birthday 2017

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I wrote about my mother on by blog today and an except of what I wrote there bears repeating.

I love you, Mom!

Happiest of birthdays to you in this momentous year of your life!

From Teach & Serve III, No. 12 – Parents Are Partners

Today is my mother’s birthday and, no, I will not mention her age.

Looking back on a quarter century of work in education and with the experience of being a parent myself for over 20 years, I can say with certainty that I am very lucky to have Mom by my mom. When I was growing up, Mom was incredibly supportive of me. She was helpful. She was kind. She gave me all that she had (likely more than she should have) and was my strongest and best advocate.

She encouraged my interests. She came to my events. She cheered me on.

She loved me.

Me and Mom circa 1981.









Yet she also allowed me to make choices. She allowed me to fail. She allowed me to learn on our own.

When I had challenges at school – and I had some of these all the way into my college career – she listened, she empathized, she told me, in the first instance, to handle things on my own. If I could not, she would, appropriately, step in and advocate for me. If she felt my “side” was worthy, she would advocate for me, tirelessly.

You would have to ask my sisters if they remember our childhoods and Mom’s support of us in the same manner. I bet they do. We had good childhoods with great parents.


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Mother’s Day 2017

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The Mater is a terrific mother. She has been for my entire life and I know that kind of thing does not just happen. I know that more now that I have been a father for 20 years. Being a good parent means being engaged, working at it, knowing it is a role that does not go away.

It has never gone away with my mother.

When I think of her now and what her legacy is, it is impossible not to think of her grandchildren who love her and adore her. And she loves and adores them.

It seems to me that they can do no wrong in her eyes and, likewise, she can do no wrong in theirs.

They love their grandma, no doubt.

But remember, kids, my sisters and I were here first. She’s our mom before she’s your grandma!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. You have been all a kid could ask for…

… and so much more.

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Milestones and Mom – Happy Birthday 2016, Mater

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My mother, the Mater, celebrates her birthday today. It’s a milestone birthday for her which commensurately means it’s a milestone for me, my sisters, our spouses and our kids. We are blessed and we are lucky to have such a mother and grandmother – one who cares about us, prays for us, loves us and accepts us always for who we are.

This is a milestone birthday for Mom and it occurs to me that, for me and for my sisters, Mom has been a part of each and every milestone of our lives. Obviously, she was there in all the benchmarks of our childhoods and adolescences – our school days, our graduations, our marriages, our children’s births. But Mom continues to be central to our lives. She remains one of the first people I will consult when I am at a crossroads. She is someone with whom I still share the events that serve as signposts through this life. She is a confidant. She is a trusted adviser.

Mom raised my sisters and I and, late in that process, went back to work and to school. She worked hard – a characteristic we all emulate. She studied hard – a characteristic I wish I had emulated more. She became expert in her field, a leading voice. She became a writer. She became a leader. She’s touched so many lives.

Reflective and smart. Witty. Loving and graceful. Compassionate and caring. Mom is an example I can point my daughter Sous Chef to and say “if you’re like this, you’re doing something right.” I can point my sons HJ jr and Stretch to and say “look for women in your life who are like this.” She is strong. She is centered. She is wonderful.

She is my mom. How lucky am I?

Her birthday is a milestone. That’s appropriate as she is a milestone in so many people’s lives.

Happy birthday, Mom. As much as you love us, we love you.

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Happy Day, Mom – Mother’s Day 2016

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And mama, when I was a child, I lost hours in her smile. Baking cookies in the kitchen, spillin’ paint on her tile. She’d read me bible stories and sleep with me awhile. And I first saw God in her eyes. – Colorado Time

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Me and Mom on a Las Vegas trip. 2013.

I went to an all boys high school, as most who’ve read this blog know. All boys high schools are wonderful places, many of which (including the one I attended) pride themselves on the sense of brotherhood they create in their graduates – the idea that the bonds formed between young men are special, strong and formed for a lifetime. At their best, all boys schools do generate this type of loyalty and they help boys understand – on at least a basic level – what it means to be a man. But, sometimes because of the very nature of their structure and the make- up, they have a harder time teaching young men about women.

Upon matriculating from all boys high schools, some graduates struggle with the reality that the young woman sitting next to them in college classes is just as smart (smarter?), just as confident (braver?) and just a capable (you get the idea) than they are.

I didn’t have that issue when I hit college. Why? In large part because of my mother.

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Me and Mom in my dorm room. 1991.

My mother is a very smart, very passionate person. As my sisters (both wonderful mothers in their own rights, by-the-way) and I were growing up, we were very blessed to have a mother like her. She loved us and we knew it. She asked for us to be our best and we tried to be for her – no one wanted to disappoint Mom.  She was full of laughter  and teased us (me most of all as I remember it) with  joyful exuberance. During our childhoods, she embraced us in comfort, gave us our character as people, made us us who we are today.

And my mom has has never been reticent to share her opinions, which is the most important reason that I always understood the power of women and never doubted the inherent equality between women and men. What a blessing to have been taught that crucial lesson at such a young age.

She remains ready to opine, and I often seek out what she thinks about what is going on in my life – about career choices, about parenting my own children, about the big questions we all confront and we want to ask our moms. Sometimes, when I realize that I haven’t asked her opinion, I think I know why I haven’t – it’s because I know what she will say and it’s usually what I don’t want to and very much need to hear.

My mom is the matriarch of our family. She is the center of it. She is the person who first showed me good and God in our world.

She is my mom. I am highly blessed.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.


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The Mater Was Born On This Date – Happy Birthday Mom

Traveling in New York this weekend means The Cinnamon Girl and I won’t be home to celebrate The Mater’s birthday today. I know she knows that we wish her the happiest of birthdays and that we’re looking forward to seeing her when we get home.

I was thinking about her yesterday as The Cinnamon Girl and I were walking around Central Park and talking about all sorts of wonderful things from where to find a Starbucks so The Cinnamon Girl could have her first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season to larger, broader topics like the presidential election (we had walked past Trump Tower [insert shiver here]).

One topic, believe it or not, was the unconditional love of God… The Cinnamon Girl mentioned that she was discussing this concept with a friend of hers from work and the friend said: “It would be hard for someone who had never experienced unconditional love from a parent or a husband or wife to really relate to the concept of unconditional love.”

So very true.

I have been blessed throughout my life with many, many things. Today I am most thankful for the blessing of a mother who taught me unconditional love. I cannot think of a time in my life when I didn’t experience unconditional love from my mother. It was her giving of that love which made understand what it meant to love others. I believe her example makes me a better father now, a better husband now, a better person now. My mother has been an incredible and indelible example to me throughout my life and I hope that I’ve also been able to share my unconditional love for her in ways real and tangible.

Happy birthday, Mom. I love you.

Mom and Me

Me and mom in Las Vegas earlier this month.

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