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Artwork: Casey Supple

Happy Birthday, Mom

My dad loves calling my mom a superhero. I never used to pay the sentiment any mind.

It was cute, sure, but I think I used to be too narrow minded to truly understand what he meant when he would call her that.

But I’m 22 years old now, she turns 49 on Saturday, and with each passing year I understand the “superhero” label more and more.

Her three kids, they’re quite a handful.

My brother is autistic. Recently his diagnosis has taken the form of a number of behavioral issues. One day he might pull someone’s hair, the next he might scream until his lungs give out and the following he might just decide to throw an ornament halfway across the room. On other days, it might even be a combination of the three.

But nevertheless, my mom continues to love my brother unconditionally. No matter how strenuous of a day Ed had the day prior, my mom wakes up the very next morning ready to do it again.

Not because she chooses to pretend like his behavioral issues do not exist, but rather because my mother understands the true beauty within my brother. She knows those behaviors do not define him.

My brother is filled with a joy and love that we all see as a family, but a love and a joy that I believe mom understands better than all of us.

My sister is 17. And well, that alone should tell you how complicated that situation can get at times.

Her tongue can become extremely visceral when her patience is tried. And sometimes my mother gets caught in the cross-hairs of my sister’s most piercing words.

But again, as she does with my brother, my mother chooses to love my sister unconditionally no matter how many times they clash. And my sister loves my mother the same way.

My sister trusts my mom with her feelings. If anything, that is when their love is most tangible, when they speak to one another. They cry, they laugh and they tease one another. I hear them speaking at a near inaudible volume from my room sometimes, it’s almost soothing.

And then, well, there’s me. The eldest of the three Ramirez kids. Mom has probably been the most forgiving with me.

I’ve hurt her. I’ve lied to her. I’ve failed to prioritize my life in a way where things are the way they should be. I was immature, selfish and thought I had it figured out.

But each time I’ve failed her and my dad, they’ve forgiven me. Each and every time I’ve failed them, they refused to stop loving me the same way they always have. For that, I could never be too grateful, because without them, there’s no telling where or who I would be.

I don’t know what specifically makes my mom “super”. I don’t think that word is fitting for what she does, there’s more to it than that. Mainly because there’s so much more to her than just being our mother and my dad’s wife. 

She’s a safe haven, a friend, nurture, the glue that holds our family together, I mean I could go on and on.

I don’t know if there’s a word to describe what my mom does on a daily basis, but sure Dad, “superhero” works for now.