Stanford in Style: Phone calls with Mom

Happy (belated) Mother’s Day! I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I wanted to write this column. I spoke to my mom on the phone this morning thinking I would interview her, but it quickly turned into chatter about my day. I thought for a moment I’d do a retrospective review of her style through the years, but the photos she sent leaned heavily into photos of us from my middle school years that should never again see the light of day. 

When we spoke earlier today, I started off the interview-that-never-was by asking for her advice. She responded by asking if this was specifically an interview question or a “real” question, which made me laugh. 

My mom, Nancy, is a lawyer, and thus is forced to love specifics, which she receives a lot of grief for from our family. I think we often fail to give her credit for her dedication to knowing the minutiae of each sentence and question. She is endlessly intentional and thoughtful with her words and actions, asking for clarity so she can be more understanding — which she is very much so. 

My mom’s love of specifics translates into much more than the ability to use legal jargon in everyday life — she is careful, thoughtful and well-researched in everything she does. To offer my own specific example, one of her love languages is sending me supplements, but only after she researches them extensively and even vets the manufacturers. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been to the package center to get a surprise package and opened it to see B12 or some new immunity boost supplement to try. 

She offered me two pieces of advice: one was for the interview, and one was, according to her, “real.” Her advice to the readers of my column was to “always say yes to adventure!” She embodies this daily, from walking our dogs to see our neighbor’s horses or chickens, to moving to Colorado and taking up skiing again for the first time in over a decade. 

We’ve taken lots of road trips together, driving over 8000 miles together since the pandemic, to northern Minnesota, the Adirondacks, the gulf coast of Florida and our new home in Denver with two large dogs in tow. One would think that spending this amount of time in the car with my mother would inevitably end in conflict, but I reminisce on our “Thelma and Louise” era with only fondness. 

Keys to a good road trip with your mother involve the entire Harry Potter series on tape, but only the ones narrated by Jim Dale, and a massive bag of jolly ranchers — Nancy likes the green ones and I like the blue ones. Like most parents, my mom seizes the opportunity to grill me during these long car trips. However, I think I can honestly say my mom is much funnier than most parents — her rapid fire questions tend to start with the predictable — “anyone you want to tell me about?” — to the absurd — “how many times a week do you think about Joe Burrow? Just a rough estimate!”  

Her love for the Cincinnati Bengals encapsulates her dedication, passion and support. I genuinely find it stressful to watch football with my mom because of how much she cares. She would never support anything less than wholeheartedly, least of all her kids. We talk every day, and I imagine she would have a supportive word to say even if I told her I tied my shoes incorrectly. I know it’s trite to say, but my mom is my #1 fan, and I hope she knows I’m hers.