As children, our parents become one of the biggest influences in our lives, for better or worse. We inherit their mannerisms, thought-patterns and their beliefs often become intricately woven into us. Although, according to health care laws, I am officially an “adult” I still call my mom to ask her what aisle to find pesto on at the grocery store. I frantically call her for the Netflix password or I find myself relying on her for severe weather updates. Bottom line? This girl still needs her mommy. And I hope I always do. Over the years, my mom has taught me simple life lessons that I continue to carry with me.
1. Unleash Creativity
From handmade halloween costumes to song writing my mom could give you a run for your money in the creative department. But her creative juices don’t stop flowing there. For example, let’s take the least fun thing you can possibly do as a kid – CHORES – but not just chores, chores on a Saturday. She would create a melting pot of necessary chores like ‘clean the bathtub’ and ‘vacuum the living room’ and mix them with exciting items like ‘let’s see how many marshmallows you can fit in your mouth’ and ‘attempt to create an obstacle course in the backyard.’ It almost made it okay to force your children to clean on a weekend. I said almost. She created a breeding ground to let creative ideas fly unhindered. She blazed the trail on embracing and leveraging creativity. She influenced me to think differently, push the envelope and break out of any box the world attempted to put me in.
2. Wait On Your Children
Being a parent is no easy undertaking. I firmly believe being a parent of a teenager is willingly submitting yourself to torture or renting a home in Crazy Town for a couple of years. As I went through my rebellious, stubborn years my mom waited on me. I would come home, some nights past curfew, and she would be waiting on the couch for her daughter. She would drowsily ask me about my night, which as a teenager felt more like an interrogation and I would refuse to divulge the details. I would keep my responses minimal, but now I see the level of concern she carried with her to wait up for her children on those long nights. She waited to confirm I was safe. She waited for me to come home physically in high school, but over the years she waited for me to come home spiritually too. There’s power in waiting on your children and welcoming them home when they return. Thanks for being a woman that taught me the importance of waiting.
3.”Look it up”
In elementary school, I would hear about a new concept or word and always turn to my go-to resource, my mom, to ask the meaning of that particular word. At a parent-teacher conference in sixth grade, my teacher told my mom I possessed tenacity. I eagerly asked my mom what that word meant and she calmly said, “You can look it up when we get home.” Whether it was a new concept or a foreign word I would find myself searching an encyclopedia (our Google back in the day) or a dictionary to discover the meaning. What my mom didn’t realize was how this simple exercise of habitual research was conditioning me to nurture my intellectual curiosity and journalistic tendencies of sourcing and absorbing information. By “looking it up” I began to rely more on what collective information-gathering taught me and less on what one one source or person said. This is also why you don’t see me spreading those insane posts on Facebook about Mark Zuckerberg giving away his fortune. All I have to do is “look it up” to check the validity.
4. Dare to Dream
My mom granted me freedom to dream. She allowed dreams to rise up within me and erupt around me. In my elementary years, I switched dream careers like an actress switches wardrobes in a play. When I wanted to be an astronomer my parents purchased a telescope for me to stare at the celestial skies. When I wanted to be an archeologist my parents purchased a dig set to uncover ancient artifacts. When I wanted to be a scientist my parents purchased a microscope kit to analyze organisms. When I wanted to be an equine veterinarian…that’s when they stopped supporting my dreams. My mom did not stifle my several passions, but fanned the flame of my dreams of all shapes and sizes. She always pushed me to take one step further than I thought possible to go.
5. Nurse Others Back to Health
My mom may have missed her calling. Hands down she is the most phenomenal care taker of sick children. With a five-kid full house I almost looked forward to getting sick, because that meant I got undivided attention. If I were cradling the porcelain potty preparing to hurl, my mom would hold my hair and rub my back in gentle circles. If I felt dehydrated, she came to the rescue with Cherry Juicy Juice to replenish my fluids. If I finished Beauty and The Beast she would come in to rewind the VHS tape as I called hoarsely for her help. Comforting and curing sicknesses is her area of expertise. When I visited my dad in Illinois and called aching for my mom, she sent me a teddy bear to alleviate my homesickness. Even miles away she still cared for her child with every fiber in her being.
6. Start (and keep) Traditions
My favorite moments with my mom revolve around small but significant traditions. Nights that involved sliced apples, buttery popcorn and Gilmore girls rank high on my best mother-daughter moments. In elementary school I was terrified to go through the lunch line. Yes, terrified. There was such an UNKNOWN behind that wall. What if I walked through the door frame of the lunch line and disappeared never to come out the other end? Don’t even think about judging me for my cafeteria trepidation. Anyway, my mom relentlessly made me peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every single day of my little elementary school life. She would put smiley faces on my Twinkies and leave little notes in my lunch stating how I was her favorite kid out of the clan. On my birthday we celebrate AOK Day (Acts of Kindness Day) and hand deliver sweet treats and smiles to people in the city. It’s these traditions I have grown to cherish.
7. Be Healthy…ish
Listen, my mom could bake your pants off. Her recipe for chocolate chip banana bread even won at The Texas State Fair. Yes, she is THAT good. That’s why I will never know why for the love of all things savory she tries to “improve” on PERFECTLY GOOD recipes , and bye perfectly good I mean yummy, delicious treats laced with sugar. She performs some sort of horrible magic trick and replaces critical, yum-factor ingredients with yogurt or other impostor substances. She will make me try something that smells like chocolate and looks like chocolate, but then doesn’t exactly taste like decadent and delectable chocolate and says, “Surprise, I put kale in the cookies!” She made me swallow vitamins that tasted like I just went face first in a field to graze with the cows. She is constantly reprimanding me for my lack of H2O intake and reminds me to read the labels on food I purchase. But when I have my sights set on something that incorporates peanut butter and chocolate I will slice through that packaging like I just morphed into Wolverine. But I will admit, if there’s any healthy cell in my body I have my mom to thank.
8. You Have Enough
I’ve been fortunate enough to have a best friend since kindergarten. My best friend’s parents would always buy us McDonald’s and let us drink soda. It was like vacation over there for me! One night, I got the courage up to ask my mom if I could get a happy meal for dinner. She took one look at me and said, “You are happy enough.” Although, I probably left sulking and wishing I could move in with my best friend where I could have full-access to fast food, I learned a valuable lesson that night. I AM happy enough. I DO have enough. The earlier I learned to be content with what I have the easier my life has been.
But my favorite of all is a saying we’ve exchanged over the years. I don’t remember how it originated or why we continue to repeat it. As a kid, before bed my mom would whisper in my ear, “I love you more than a pumpkin in store.” I would secretly whisper “God bless you whatever you do.” God surely has blessed us. I love you, mom. Happy Mother’s Day!
Psalm 116:16 (NIV)
16 Truly I am your servant, Lord;
I serve you just as my mother did.