Linda Wann

Today is The Avon World Sales Leader’s birthday, and no. I’m not going to tell you her age. She put me back in her will when I went and had those two adorable babies, and I stand to inherit a boatload of moisturizer. But that’s the only reason I’m being nice.

Well, okay. Fine. NOT THE ONLY REASON. Here goes.

My mother and I enjoyed a very close relationship throughout my childhood and adolescence and then through all four years of college. I would not be surprised if she is still paying off long distance phone bills from my freshman year when I’d call her every other hour in a fit of tears. I was depressed, didn’t know it, and she was the one I would call when I was certain I’d failed a Calculus exam or worse, when my roommate ate my cereal.

Here, let me just go ahead and apologize to the five girls who lived in that dorm with me: I am so sorry you experienced unmedicated Heather.

My mom always answered. Always. Even when she didn’t have time to. She knew how to listen and then at the perfect moment say, “I understand. It will be okay.”

I thought I had damaged our relationship irreparably when I left the Mormon Church. She probably thought so, too, because I can remember the look on her face when she confronted me with the knowledge that I was living with my boyfriend. There’s not much worse in the Mormon faith than premarital sex except murder and publicly expressing that whatever happened between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky was no one’s business.

The years I spent in Los Angeles didn’t do much to repair that rift, and it wasn’t until I came back to Utah that she spent enough time with me to realize that my leaving the church had not changed the fundamental parts of me that make me Heather. I was still very much her daughter. I still possessed the ambition and determination given to me by her DNA. We still shared the same possibly unhealthy personality trait of wanting to save everyone and everything. I still cried when I saw a dead animal on the side of the road.

And then, well, my kids. Nothing has brought us closer together than my becoming a mother, and I’m not sure I can ever thank my girls enough for that gift.

My mom has been my hugest support in the last several months. I’ve been crying like a freshman in college all over again, and as usual she knows the right thing to say and when to say it. I’m so lucky that we’re close enough that I can call her and ask for insight, that she could look past the fact that I don’t go to church and realize that she’s still my mother. I couldn’t have survived this without her.

Thank you, Mom. Happy birthday.