In anticipation of Mother’s Day I decided to compile a list of the most important things I’ve learned from my Momma over the years.
Some of these are lessons she taught me intentionally while others are things I gleaned from her character and actions.
All of them are priceless pearls of wisdom that I will be forever grateful to know.
1. It’s okay to cry.
It’s a running joke that the women in my family are, shall we say, easily moved. My favorite example being the Christmas that my grandma made chronological photo albums for each grandchild, full of pictures of ourselves with beloved friends and family members from birth to present day. I was about halfway through mine, blubbering like a sea lion, when I looked up and saw my two sisters, my cousin, my mom, my aunt, and my grandma all in the same tear-stained state.
My mom and I often cry during our conversations. Sometimes they are sad tears, other times happy tears, but they are always genuine tears.
Crying can be embarrassing, sometimes happening at extremely inopportune times and making my propensity for it a potential nuisance. But, as I said in a previous post about this very trait, every time I cry a tear, it reminds me that I am alive and that I feel things and that there are things in this world worth feeling to the point of tears.
2. Life’s not fair. Get used to it.
Hi, my name is Courtney, and I have Middle Child Syndrome.
If my dear mother had a nickel for every time I screeched “but that’s not fair!” at a decibel level that only a middle child can reach and only dogs and moms can hear, she could afford to move to the beach and make hats every day. (This, oddly, was a desire she often expressed after one of my outbursts. I was not an easy child to rear.)
Since my mom has the wisdom of a sage and the patience of a saint, her response to my whine was always perfect…
(After my older sister beat me to the front seat of the minivan *again*)
Me: “But that’s not fair! She rode in the front YESTERDAY!”
My mom: “Life’s not fair. Get used to it. And get in the back seat. We’re going to be late.”
(When my older sister got a pair of [used] Doc Martens for Christmas, and I got a white sweatshirt with a smiley face on the front)
Me: “That’s so not fair. She gets everything she wants.”
My mom (wisely choosing not to engage in a discussion with me about how my sister does not, in reality, get everything she wants, and patiently refraining from pinching my head off): “Life’s not fair. Get used to it.”
You get the point.
I tell these stories in jest, but the fact remains that life is, actually, not fair. Deserving people get overlooked for promotions; kind people often get the short end of the stick; older siblings totally cheat on the front seat rotation. Life’s not fair. And thanks to my mom, I know how to take it in stride.
3. Don’t decide you don’t like something without first giving it a chance (barring drugs and immoral behavior, of course). This applies to everything from food to friends.
A restatement of the old adage about judging a book by its cover. An oldie but a goodie.
4. When in doubt, take a jacket.
You don’t have to wear it. But if you get cold, you’ll have it with you to put on. Solid advice.
5. This, too, shall pass.
Let the record show that my mom still says this to me. It’s the ultimate encouragement when you’re in the middle of a situation that feels both world-shattering and never-ending.
However, it’s also an incredibly poignant existential philosophy.
This moment, this day, this experience, this life will pass. Cherish it. Live it.
(see mom? that philosophy degree isn’t totally useless.)
6. In most cases, less is more.
When I was thirteen, I had an obsession with black eyeliner. My cosmetic-consultant-mom watched me walk out the door every day looking like a raccoon. And she never said a word.
One day, several years later, we came across photo evidence of my unfortunate choice, and I asked her why she never stopped me from wearing it. She said she knew that if she forced me to take it off, it would only teach me that she didn’t approve of my appearance and make me want to wear it more. Instead, she wanted me to learn, in my own time, that less is more.
And you know what? I did.
7. Pretty is as pretty does.
I like to feel pretty. Unfortunately for me, I’ve never much felt pretty. For as long as I can remember, I’ve bemoaned my boyish figure and the dark circles around my deep-set eyes. Since I was old enough to notice, I’ve envied other girls their beautiful skin, their womanly curves, their perfect teeth.
As good, loving parents do, my mom often assured me of my physical beauty. As a cosmetics consultant, she taught me the fundamentals of skin care and makeup application. When I was younger, she complimented my appearance when she knew I needed the encouragement.
But, as excellent, God-fearing parents do, my mom just as often assures me of my true beauty. She tells me she’s thankful to be my mom because I’m compassionate and caring. She tells me she’s proud of me for loving and serving my husband and my little boy. She rejoices with me when I tell her, through joyful tears, about what the Lord has been teaching me, and she tells me how happy it makes her to see me seeking Him.
She taught me to see others as she sees me, as God sees me. To look first at their heart and regard not their outward appearance. It is a skill that takes years to learn, and I’m still learning; but I see now how fortunate I am to have a mom who took the time to teach me.
Thank you, Mom, for who are you and for who you taught me to be. Thank you for the nights when you stayed up late to sew my Halloween costume and for the mornings when you rose early to make my breakfast. Thank you for loving me unconditionally, for disciplining me, for encouraging me, for believing in me.
And thanks for making me take a jacket.
What important lessons did your mom teach you? What do you hope to teach your kids? I’d love to hear all about it!