In celebration of my biggest fan: My mom

“It don’t gotta be Mother’s Day, or your birthday/ For me to just call and say, ‘Hey Mama.’”

For three years, I’ve filled these pages with topics ranging from politics to relationships to Manhood 101. It’s about time I dedicate one to the most devoted, loving and caring woman I will ever know.

My mother.

Where would I be without you? You read to your newborn little boy every night. In my earliest moments of development, you cultivated in me a work ethic and appreciation for knowledge that set me ahead for life. You don’t only do this for your family. Every day you work as an early childhood teacher to prepare kids for a world of learning. How giving.

I remember the first day of school every year. In the morning, you would take a picture of me in some of the worst outfits ever assembled. You said one day they’d all make a nice collage. By the time high school graduation rolled around, you blew everyone away with your collection. I may have feigned embarrassment. Yet, I loved it.

At the end of all those first days, you would take me out to eat. My choice. All of those glorious burgers can’t compare to the conversations we had. You’d ask about teachers and expectations. I’d talk about whatever the coolest thing in the world happened to be at that moment. No matter the topic, you listened. You showed me an easy way to remain involved in both your child’s education and life.

Remember all those Bulls games? Michael was the man, and every year when the second best team in the league earned the right to play the Chicago Bulls (that was how it worked, wasn’t it?), we’d dress up in all of our Bulls gear. Hats, sweaters, shirts, sweatpants. All the extra championship memorabilia we couldn’t find space on our bodies for, we strategically laid around the family room. You’d sit right on the edge of the couch next to me and squeeze my hand every time Dennis grabbed a rebound and every time Scottie kicked it to Steve for three. Sure, we drove Dad half-crazy with all our screaming and yelling. We couldn’t help it. I was a passionate little kid, and you let me be myself. The memory of the 360 I pulled off when MJ hit that final shot in Utah in ’98 remains permanently seared into my mind.

I’m not sure how we got into watching all those Bulls championships. I remember when the Packers games started. All the boys at elementary school had a team, and I wanted one. I chose the Pack and wanted someone to root with me. Dad being a lost Bears cause, you filled in. You didn’t know a darn thing about football when we started painting the living room green and yellow every Sunday, but, since your son was into it, you wanted to learn. Now you’re the one calling me five minutes before kickoff asking if I heard the latest on Greg Jennings.

Every journalist doubts himself or herself. How do I know I am doing a good job? Do people read my stuff? Do they care? Whenever I fear not making it, you always pick me up.

“You know, I’m your number one fan, don’t ya?”

I love hearing that every time. You’ve read every single published piece. You even serve as my archivist. You are always the first person I want to hear from when a new piece comes out.

This week, you started a new job as a yoga instructor. Yoga is your thing, and you’ve worked hard to understand the field and develop your ability. Twenty-some novice students showed up for your first class at the Y. When you called me and said they gave you a standing ovation at the end, I glowed for you.

But I needed to do more. Hopefully after reading this column, everyone else will give you and their own mother a standing ovation as well. I love you, and I’m proud of you.

“I wrote these words just so you know/ No matter where you go/ My love is true”

Phil is a senior in Media.