I know Mother’s Day is technically over. But I’ve been thinking quite a bit about my mom. She was never a Kool-Aid mom, partly because that’s not in her DNA and partly because of circumstance. The Donna Reed idea appealed to her, but apron never quite fit. She was human and flawed and at times downright insane, but she taught me some important things.
Reading is Awesome: My mom taught me to read when she didn’t think the school was doing it fast enough. She used McGuffy Readers. It was awful, for both of us. I remember crying, “I don’t want to learn to read.” She would shoot back, “You. will. love. it.” She was right. Say what you will about anything else this woman ever did, my mom taught me to love books, to love words, to ingest them and let them nourish me. I contend there is nothing out of your reach if you are a reader. I love books. I love reading books. I’m a reader. Because of my mom.
You are never too old to change who you are: The woman who was married to my dad as a mother to me and my sister when I was a kid is an entirely different woman than the woman who is married to my step-dad with all kids out of the house. They are both great women, just not the same. There have been growing pains for all of us as my mom evolved into the new woman she is now. But it’s such an important lesson for me and my sister: who you have been does not determine who you will be. She is happy in her new life. We are happy for her.
Character Matters More than Beauty: When I was in 9th grade, my mom caught me in a lie. She made me write out every verse of the Bible on lying, liars, honesty, truth, anything she could think of on the topic. (FYI – Revelation 21:8 – liars burn in hell.) She told me every person in the their life has has told a lie, but I should be the kind of person who is truthful. She said she could never respect a liar. There is no substitute for honesty or integrity. Pretty on the outside can only take you so far if you’re ugly on the inside. I have not always been someone my mom could be proud of in this area, but I’m trying every day to be better.
Chocolate Chip Cookies Rock: My mom makes the best chocolate chip cookies in the world. I challenge anyone to find a problem they can’t make better. She taught me to make them too. I would give the recipe but I’m pretty sure Toll House has the actual claim to it. I’m just saying.
Give Yourself a Break: This is the lesson we are both still trying to learn fully. My mom and I both struggle with “beat yourself up” syndrome. Recently, I was complaining about my unhappiness with my physical appearance to her. She looked at me with a steely stare, “Could you for once in your life, just give yourself a break?!” I don’t think anyone else could have said that to me and made me listen. She was right. I did… a little. Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, according to Anne Lamott… and my mother. Just give yourself a break.
My mother is not the perfect mother. I don’t honestly know who is. But she raised two daughters who turned out pretty great, if I say so myself. We are gainfully employed, we pay our taxes, we vote, we are nice to animals and old people, we recycle, we are good wives and mothers and friends. I’d say she did her job well.