On any list of people influential in my life, Jamie Sharpton has to appear right at the top. Below Jesus, sure, definitely above Steve Jobs or Burt Reynolds (what? I'm a Bandit fan). Outside of Son #1 and Deuce, there's pretty much no one I'd save room for on a liferaft over her. I'd totally let her have the last Diet Coke out of the fridge, and I've even been known to share a few french fries with her (people who know me, or french fries, understand what high praise this is).I love her. Not in the blind-to-her-flaws "Super-Mom" love that my boys have for Ella right now, or some syrupy "Good-old-days" sentimentality. I love her because she's an amazing woman, who worked hard everyday and still does. She wiped snotty noses and cleaned up vomit, instead of caring for her own illnesses. She wore clothes a year or two longer than she might have, 'cause the kids needed new things more. She drove an old car so I got a new one to go to college and back. Hell, she went back to school at night while also working a full-time job and caring for two small kids so that the family would have a better second and third decade than the first one. Did she do all this alone? No. No one does really, no one could. My dad was/is around and is a great father. I've gushed about him and our awesome relationship before. He's been a good partner and a great dad. But we're not celebrating his birthday. Today, my mom is really entering the best part of life as far as I can estimate it. She's still plenty young enough to enjoy her time and now well respected enough in her career to not get crap jobs or crap paychecks. She doesn't have two children eating her out of house and home, but she does have two grandchildren she can spoil and stuff anytime she wants. No one has earned a little victory lap more than her. (Probably your mom too, but again, we're not celebrating her birthday right now. Write your own blog.) Mom, I love you, whether I call and tell all the time or not. Whatever good stuff there is about me, you're as responsible for as anyone else, and I promise I blame all the bad stuff on my own stupid choices whenever I'm asked. I hope your birthday is a great one, and your "victory lap" is as long as you'd like it to be. Happy birthday!