Happy Birthday, Beth Buffa: A tribute to the best mom a kid could ask for

All I can remember was my foot wouldn’t stop bleeding.

I had badly cut my foot on a friend’s fence, and there I was, limping down Tholozan and dripping blood across Hereford. You never forget your first real injury. It buys up real estate in your mind forever. For me, it was a deep gash on the back of my foot that I thought would end with my foot falling off.

Thankfully, I had a mom who happened to be a superhero nurse at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. She got me to the hospital and I held her hand as the stitches were put in. I hate that memory, but it stands to this day as example #435 why I may be the luckiest kid in the world.

For over 35 years, Beth Buffa took care of sick kids at the hospital, but she saved her best work for the homefront with my brother Bryan and I. She’d come home after a long shift of tending to kids and their parents in the worst of times, and find time to give us the nurturing that we required.

I am not ashamed to say that my parents spoiled my brother and I with love. Probably more care and adoration than most kids in my neighborhood. All I have to do is flip on the news or read an article in the newspaper about a mom doing something awful to her kids. Some women aren’t made to be parents, but do it anyway. My mom was born to be a mom. She could have had Bryan and I, and simply decided this wasn’t for her, and given up. She didn’t, and here we are today.

My dad was always the Sergeant in the house, the end-all be-all epitome of authority growing up. If I messed up, I knew answering to my dad, who stood at 6 feet 4 inches and was big enough to keep you honest, would follow. My mom had the softer touch, allowing us to get away with certain things or at least provide time to design a solid excuse. She was strict at times, but never overbearing. Together with my father, Rich, she helped create an environment that made us feel safe at all times.

Quite honestly, I don’t think I’d be the man I am today if it wasn’t for my mom. Women share a connection to their kid, something a dad can only dream about. Trust me, being a father myself for seven years now, I can see the moments where Vinny syncs up to Rachel as if he were a USB and she was the computer. I get jealous, and then it clicks. Moms rule and men find a way to not be a tool.

If it wasn’t for my mom, I don’t think I would have asked a women like Rachel to go out with me. I wouldn’t have been ready or known what to look for. Sure, my dad played a part in molding my ladykiller ways, but a mom is the one who first makes a baby feel safe. So we take that connection to heart and use it in finding a woman to spend the rest of our life with.

When people parent right, the effect can last for decades. Since I had great parents, Vinny will go on to be a good parent, and so on. Generations are aided by good parenting, or they crumble as a result of its absence. That’s the way it works. It’s not that complicated.

I may be a daddy’s boy until I die, but I am my mom’s baby, and that is an indelible imprint. These days, I can’t spend three minutes in my house without being asked if I want a salad, sandwich, pizza, or all three. If there are three words my mom will never understand, it’s “I am full.” I never leave unfed or hungry. This will not change, even when I am 46 years old.

Good parenting doesn’t expire or take a day off. I used to marvel at my mom spending eight hours in a hospital and then coming home to cook a big meal-or leaving one in the oven or fridge for us to destroy while she worked. Every kid becomes an adult in their own way, but it’s aided by their parents.

The love my mom shows doesn’t stop at the human level either. She has cared for four dogs since I was kid, and they are equals. Basically, humans and pets may look different, but to my mom, the importance doesn’t differ much. My dad and I have often joked that if the house were on fire, my mom may go looking for her dogs instead of us. I am okay with that. If Tate, her beagle, runs off the chain and escapes down the street, you will see her break into a full sprint after that dog.

That doesn’t mean Vinny is left out. My mom treats her grandson like a king. So, after she rescues the dogs from the fire, my son will be next. It’s been that way since the start of his life. When Vinny suffered a heart condition as a baby, he went to my mom’s hospital for care. I’ll never forget his heart rate spiking while he laid in her arms and the look on her face. She may have been off work, but she also wasn’t, if you know what I mean.

I keep saying “my mom,” because it feels very weird to say Beth, and even more so to write it. She’s not Beth to me. She will always be “mom.”

One of the best things about my mom is her combination of a sweet heart and a dry wit that you need to pick up on in order to appreciate. She can be quite funny without trying too hard. Most of all, she cares and that’s what counts.

What I’m trying to say is I have a great mom. The best. I won’t say she’s better than yours, because I honestly don’t know, but if you want to come and see how it’s done, look up Beth Buffa.

Life hasn’t dealt her the perfect hand, but she continues to make the best of it, and inspire me to be a better man every day.

She celebrates a birthday today, but knowing her, I will be the one getting breakfast, lunch, and dinner offered to me.

That’s my mom. She never stops loving.

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