(…Well really it’s the day after Mother’s Day, but whatever! Lol.)
I lost my grandmother in December of 2003. She used to always say that you should “give people their flowers while they’re living.” Here are a dozen “flowers” for my mom. A Dozen Lessons I’ve learned through her example:
1.) Never look like what you’ve been through.
Growing up, I occassionally watched my mom have bad days and then go out into the world like nothing was wrong. I never understood why she would act so chipper on days when things weren’t going right. I now realize that she was making a choice not to let her pain dictate who she is. Just because you’ve had a bad day, doesn’t mean you have to look like a bad day.
2.) Never stop learning.
Since she’s been retired, my mother has taken guitar lessons, horseback riding lessons, and has taken up doll-making (among other things). No matter how old you are, how long you’ve been on the job or in the marriage – things don’t get mundane because of how long you’ve been there; they get mundane because you’ve exhausted the learning and the possibilities.
3.) Life is not always as complicated as we make it.
I have a very regimented routine for my face:
- Step 1: cleanser (applied with cotton pad);
- Step 2: toner (applied with cotton ball);
- Step 3: moisturizer (which must contain SPF).
- *Alternate weekly between facemasks and facial scrubs.
- *Add in occasional steaming.
My mom’s routine?
- A bar of soap and water. Period.
And her skin is more flawless than mine has ever been! While her simple soap and water routine never seems to do justice to my skin (of course I’ve tried it! Lol), it taught me sometimes simple can be better. Everything is not as complicated as we make it.
4.) Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Whether you own the building or you’re mopping the building floor, my mother consistently treats and speaks to people the way she wants to be treated and spoken to. Seeing this growing up taught me a valuable lesson in valuing people.
5.) You can enjoy and experience life on a budget.
As I got older and realized we weren’t the “ballers” I thought we were, lol, I wondered how my mom managed to create so many memories of zoo/museum outings, piano lessons, fun restaurants, family trips, etc. It’s because she took advantage of museum/zoo “free days.” It’s because she knew how to make large group trips with other close families seem like fun extended family getaways, instead of the more-people-to-chip-in-so-this-can-be-cheaper trips that they sometimes were. Despite financial limitations, my mom was resourceful and made sure that we experienced culture and life.
6.) Have a relationship with God.
My relationship with God gives me life, hope, and love. Although my relationship with God is my own, and may look quite different than my mom’s, that life-giving relationship exists because of her example.
7.) Sing like no one’s listening.
Randomly, throughout the week, my mother will sing. Not to me, not to my siblings, she will just sing – to herself, but loud enough to be heard. When I was younger, I thought it was weird, lol. As I get older (and find myself randomly singing around the house as well), I realize that this practice is kind of therapeutic. There is something healthy and spirit-lifting about having a song in your heart.
(Here’s one of the songs I remember my mom singing all the time. And it’s one of the ones I find myself singing now…)
8.) Never go out without lipstick, or whatever gives you that extra boost.
I’m not a big makeup person (although I’m slowly getting better thanks to Courtney ;-)), so for me it’s earrings. You will never catch me outside of my house without earrings! Lol. Whatever that thing is that makes you feel a little bit more confident/more beautiful, don’t leave home without it. You’ll feel better and walk taller.
9.) Never let anyone run you out of your home.
When I was nine years old, I was attacked by a man while walking to a neighbor’s house. By the grace of God his plans to rape me were interrupted just in time. But of course after that incident, I was afraid beyond consolation. Because of my fear, I begged my mother to let me live with my grandparents; she wouldn’t let me. In her eyes, home – with my parents – was where I belonged. Now whether or not she should have acquiesced is a matter of opinion. What I do know is that from that experience, I learned never to allow anyone (or any fear) to run you out of the place you are meant to be.
10.) You don’t have to spend a lot of money to show people you love them.
When I was away at school, my mom mailed me a post-it note, paper clipped to a few heart-shaped stickers. These stickers were nothing fancy, and looked like the kind that you get free in the mail when organizations solicit you for donations. If she paid for them, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t more than $1. Her note read: “9-6-2000. Hi- These may bring a smile to your beautiful face. Love you, Mom.” 12 years later, these cheap stickers and post-it note are still on my desk. Never under estimate the “little things.”
11.) Do what you think is right.
As much as I love my mom, I’m quite clear on the fact that she’s not perfect (sorry mom! 😉 ). I’ll even admit that I don’t agree with every decision she’s ever made. But my respect for her lies largely in the fact that I wholeheartedly believe that even in the times when I didn’t agree with her, she did what she believed was the right thing to do at the time.
12.) Teach by example.
Of these lessons from my mother that I just shared, not one of them was ever spoken to me. Most of what I learned from my mother, I learned from watching her. Remember: People pay way more attention to what you do than to what you say.