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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

She Was Right: Lessons From Our Mothers

Mom,
I have a very vivid memory of learning to drive. You were in the passenger seat, no doubt clutching the car door in an effort to save your own life. I was in the driver's seat rolling my eyes and saying, "I know, Mom..." after every bit of instruction. And when I got frustrated while trying to park, I shouted,
"Why don't you HELP?! You've never taught me ANYTHING in my whole life!"

Now, this memory stands out in my mind for a couple of reasons:
First because it was such an ugly, childish thing to say, but not out of character for the selfish sixteen year-old version of me;
Second, your reaction was priceless: a chuckle and "honey, parking is the least of your problems," And third, because it was so untrue... Never in my life has a person taught me more than you... I just didn't know it at the time.

I didn't know that aside from all the things you had actually taught me (drawing, painting, sewing, dancing, singing, how to tie my shoes, wipe my own backside, baking, reading, and a million other things) everything that I knew then and now- everything that I am- I learned from you simply being who you are. So here's the short list:

Sometimes things won't work out the way you planned. So you put on a brave face, and you deal with it.

To Ask for help when you truly need it, but stand on your own two feet again when you no longer need that assistance.

To handle conflict with dignity and grace.

Sharing the work cuts it in half, and doubles the fun.

That sometimes you work three jobs and still just barely make it, but you can make it work, and your hard work can lead to a better future.

That bargain shopping is an art.

To take pride in and take care of the things you earn and own. They may not always be the nicest, or most expensive, but you earned them with hard work and perseverance, and that counts for something.

That the world doesn't owe you anything. Your choices have consequences, and if you mess up, fess up... then start again.

That anything worth doing is worth doing well.

That working hard and being nice will get you further than any amount of under-handed scheming and dishonesty.

I learned that I can do hard things, how to love hard, and how be make others feel special.
I learned my worth.

But now I'm a mother and I'm trying to carry on the legacy, but it's daunting- this business of raising up a girl to be a woman. So your job isn't done yet. I have so much left to learn from you...

Tell me how not to lose myself in these years with young children.
Remind me to keep going even when it feels like they'll never get it.
Teach me how to spin all the plates and start again when they shatter.
Show me how to make the same old chicken breast recipe feel brand new, and help me convince my kids to eat it.
Encourage me to let go even if it hurts.
Guide me toward the light when the darkness begins to overtake me.
And teach me to give myself grace in motherhood and in life.

There's no one I'd rather learn from... no one has known my heart longer...

Oh, and twelve years from now, remind me to let her father teach her to park.

xo,
your "D-O-T-T-E-R"

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