Graduation and Mother's Day in the same weekend? That's quite the double-whammy of May holidays. While Tom covered what life is going to be like for you new grads yesterday (spoiler alert: it will be terrifying yet okay), today you get to be treated to me talking about my favorite Illini not named Mark Primiano (or Dave Diehl): my mom.
I don't entirely know for certain how old I was when I decided I was going to attend the University of Illinois for my college education, but I'm about 90% sure that choice was influenced by my mom. Just like I'm positive she's the reason I decided to be a vet, since she casually discouraged my childhood dream of becoming Scottie Pippen. Dad, while an Illini fan through and through, is a Marquette grad. But mom lived in Champaign in a house on Daniels (please tell me I'm remembering the right street when you call after reading this later) that she loved to point out when she'd come to visit.
When I was little, I found a sheet of round stickers about the size of a quarter that were nothing more than the old Chief logo. We also had these magnets on the fridge, that were just wooden rectangles that said "Nora's Kitchen" and had a wee little frying pan with eggs and bacon cooking up in them. For whatever reason, I thought they made decent toys because children are chronically stupid and break everything. How did I creatively patch over breaking this magnet? I put a sticker of the Chief where the frying pan should be. No one ever confronted or yelled at me for this. Pretty sure that magnet is still on the fridge.
I got into trouble a lot in sixth grade. There is still a lot of elementary school trouble my parents do not know about because I was incredibly good at convincing my principal to not call them. But the dean at Indian Trail Middle School was not nearly as kind. And so, after kicking Jake Kozak in the stomach as hard as I could so he would stop strangling the life out of me, I received a day of ASDA (in school suspension) and missed out on a trip to see some mummies at the Field Museum. The first thing my mom said to me when she got home from work that day was "Well, the world needs ditch diggers, too". Yeah, my mom angrily quoted Caddyshack at me as a threat.
I always hated that Mom's Weekend at U of I fell in the spring, because what are you supposed to do with your mom on a spring weekend? Dad's Weekend was easy. Dad would show up, we'd go grocery shopping, go to the game, get some pizza, and he'd drive home after reminding me to study as well as having fun. But mom's weekend? I'm not big on drinking with my folks because they do not need to see that. And a flower show? Really?
So we developed our own tradition, which turned into more of a family weekend, which always made me feel kind of bad. But mom, dad, and usually Gina (one of my two sisters) would come down, we'd go out to eat at a different place each year (Black Dog my senior year), they'd take me grocery shopping, and I would take them to see the baby horses. Mom loves those baby horses. The mare barn is just south of the State Farm Center and if you're an An Sci major they just kind of let you do whatever you want. Which is how we wind up with pictures like this.
I love my mom. And every year I've been out here in Kansas, she's dreamed that I'll be able to come home in time for Mothers and Sons Day at U.S. Cellular Field. And every year it has fallen on the Sunday before finals, making it impossible for me to come home. But eventually I'm going to graduate (in theory). Until then, she's just going to keep supporting me and my silly hobby of writing about sports when I should definitely be studying or making the world a better place or anything that isn't me gazing thoroughly into my own navel. But she still loves me anyways.
Happy Mother's Day, Nora. You're the best.