Just be nice this week...that simple request from my mom, and on her birthday no less, can mean only one thing for me. And that means no writing about politics this week, even though there are quite a few who deserve a roasting.

This morning I was thinking about how much I appreciate Mom before I called to wish her a happy birthday. My sister and I were lucky to have some great women to look up to in our family, each having strengths and wisdom that they tried to pass on to us....with varying degrees of success.

Some of those tidiness lessons were definitely lost on me.... while Natalie folded her dirty clothes before putting them in the hamper.

But somehow, my mom navigated our personalities, raising two decent, productive members of society... even when we weren’t being decent to each other, as only sisters can.

We like to give Mom a hard time about our awful childhoods... but in all honesty, my family  is blessed because of her.

Mom could be described as a problem solver, a do-er, and a boss....not just because she owns the newspaper. She’s loving, caring, compassionate, funny and crazy. And she is our rock.

Whenever there is a problem in life... doesn’t matter what kind... we call Mom. Be the problem practical or metaphysical, she always has an answer. And, much to our chagrin growing up, she was always right. She pretty much always is, truth be told.

Friends and family alike have benefited from the wisdom of Mama-San. I honestly wonder how much of a disaster most of us would be without her around to keep us all whipped into shape. And those lessons from my mom continue.... honestly, some days it seems she just knows everything important.

Plant growing weird... call Mom.

Dog tried to eat a frog.... call Mom.

Kid’s being a kid and you’re ready to throttle him... yep, call Mom.

Existential mid life crisis... most definitely call Mom.

My sister and I joke about the fact that our first emergency contacts aren’t our husbands, but yep, our mom. Even after we moved away to Tennessee, she is still first on the call list. Because honestly, if something bad happens, she will be the person taking care of what needs to be done. Even if she’s 2,000 miles away.

My mom is the only person in the world who can still strike fear into me by saying my name in a certain, distinct tone of voice. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen nearly as often as it used to, because my mom can be a force of nature. Her ire is better when directed elsewhere.

One of the most important lessons Mom taught us is to put our money where our mouth is. It isn’t enough to complain about a problem, if you aren’t prepared to roll up your sleeves and do something to fix it. Hand in hand with that first lesson was to always do your best... then try harder.

It can be hard to live up to those kind of expectations growing up, until you realize that she demands that and more of herself.

Whether it was calling out the town’s “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree,” which led to her now being up on a cherry picker the week after Thanksgiving working her Christmas decorating magic, chairing the fund-raising campaign to build a health center or her 20-year commitment to TOSCA, my mom has always been willing to give her time and expertise to make other people’s lives better.

And beyond all of that, my mom is the best Vavie the world has ever known. From the moment Samuel was born, the stars realigned and the rest is history. And, as is the regular order in our family, the spoiling and loving on Samuel by a doting grandmother continues.

Gone is the parent whose first answer was always “no,” usually with good reason with some of our more hair-brained teenage ideas. Instead, Samuel got ice cream for breakfast, lunches cut into the shape of ninja monkeys and whatever sugary cereal his little heart desired.

As I have told Vince on more than one occasion, we are dealing with generational cycles here, no point in fighting it now.

Not much else can be done, you let the lady make her magic, and just be glad you get to be a part of it.

Happy Birthday, Mom. Thank you for being you!

Staff columnist Toni Butero can be reached at tbutero@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 862-2222.