Mom.

Adam Heath Avitable and his parents

She told me Challenger jokes when the disaster was a day old.

She was proud of me for being able to forge her signature on a permission slip when I was seven.

She pinned me to the ground on the volleyball court at camp when I was being a smartass and made me apologize in front of my classmates, to my complete mortification.

She taught me how to use my wits and words to sway the opinions and decisions of others.

She rubbed my head and helped me go to sleep when I had my first panic attack about eternity.

She instilled within me the desire and ability to work hard, rise to the top, and perform above and beyond expectations.

She showed me the value in having good friends who become an integral part of your family.

She expects more from me than anyone else, other than myself, because she has an unshakable faith in what I can accomplish.

In so many ways, I am my mother. We share a need to control the world around us because we are the only people we trust to get the job done correctly. We hate to show vulnerability, and I’ve had to actively rebel against the fear of exposing my rawest, deepest emotions to the public. We absorb information and learn from our surroundings, becoming self-declared experts on hundreds of topics, perpetually knowing a little about a lot. We don’t follow because it always makes more sense to lead. We read everything in front of us and lose ourselves in the worlds of books for hours on end. We hate celebrating our own birthdays and we hate receiving gifts, but we delight in throwing parties and giving gifts to others. We think that we know what’s best for everyone and will go to great strides to convince others to take the path we think is right. We care more than we let on because we’re so easily let down by those around us who fail to achieve what they should be able to achieve.

My mother and I have many politically and religiously divergent views and don’t agree in many situations. For so many years, though, I was inseparable from her, talking on the phone daily, going over every decision with her, and trying to hide from her the aspects of my life that might cause her disappointment or concern. Over time, though, I realized that I needed to identify who I was separate from the beliefs and desires of my mother, a step I took in college when I began choosing classes my junior year by myself for the first time. This hurt my mother, though she would never admit it, but it was an essential move on my part. The only way I could ever show her how well she and my father had done as parents was to break from her completely and do it my own way.

It has to be difficult to have me as a son. I’m stubborn, outspoken, and have no ability to recognize boundaries. I like to challenge stereotypes and preconceived notions, I go out of my way to be a spectacle so that I can make a point, and I am never shy with my opinion. I court controversy and encourage a degree of chaos, and I eschew tradition every chance that I get. If I get what I want out of life, my exposure to the world will only be larger and the spotlight will only get brighter, and it cannot be easy when I know that my every word and action reflects in some way on my family but am never deterred from saying exactly what I think. If my mother had her choice, I’d be married with children, practicing law, and settled in a nice conservative community, but she loves me no less even though I’m 36, divorced and acting very single, and trying to start a new career in comedy rather than being safe with my choices.

Mom, thank you for everything. I appreciate what you’ve done for me and continuously do for me, and while I may never listen to your entreaties to stop embarrassing myself on the Internet, I know you want nothing but the best for me. Your excitement when I published my book and your laughter when I performed stand-up were two of the greatest honors I could ever hope to achieve with my work. I love you.

P.S. This is your Mother’s Day present.

 

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