Mother's Day is tomorrow and as the day fast approaches, I've been thinking a lot about Mothers and Children and Women in general. Without going into details, I won't be seeing my mother tomorrow, nor will I talk with her. It is a situation unlikely to change and I've finally come to peace with those facts and all the facts that surround them. Having said that, it would be unfair not to acknowledge the things I learned from my mother as I was growing up and as I become a wife and mother myself. In addition to my mother, I've been blessed to have learned from some amazing women. In fact, without the wisdom of the women who've touched my life, I can honestly say I wouldn't have the happy and fulfilling life I have today.
So, in honor of Mother's Day, I thought I'd share with you some of the life lessons I've been fortunate enough to learn. Maybe you'll recognize yourself in the lessons...maybe not.
From my mother:
I learned to clean my room when life was feeling out of control. She was right. When you feel like you can't control or have an impact on anything around you, start with what you can control. That feeling you get from accomplishing that small task will help clear your mind and set you on the path to solving whatever is causing you conflict.
I learned to put on my best face and take that first step, even if I was scared out of my mind. Again, she was right...finally acting on a decision is far better than wringing your hands in indecision.
I learned that if you don't point out your "flaws" to other people, chances are they'll never notice them. Again, she was right. That butt you hate? If you keep your mouth closed about it, one of these days a friend will say she admires it on one of those crazy internet 20-question thingys. (Then you'll wonder if your friend is crazy, but you'll secretly be so flattered that she liked anything about your post-three children body that you'll keep your mouth shut until years later when you blog about it!)
From my dad's wife:
I learned that if you keep your mouth shut and the doors open, peace will come. Again, she was right. Someone has to be the adult and it tends to be the one who can see beyond the moment and keep her temper in check (if needed) and keep perspective.
From my really mean boss:
I learned if your name is going to be on it, make sure it is something you'll be proud to claim. She was right. If you're going to do it, you should make sure that you'll be proud to have everyone know it was done by you. Shortcuts might save you time, but doing a crummy job just demeans you. (Oh, and she was really mean, but she taught me to work my a** off and keep my head down and I survived ten years of layoffs because of the lessons I learned from her.)
From my mother-in-law:
I learned that if I want to keep my sons and their future wives connected to the family, I will need to 1) remember that I will be the grown-up when the boys get married and to cut the girls some slack and 2) that compromise will be the name of the game. Then I'll need to refer back to the lesson my dad's wife taught: Keep my mouth shut and the doors (and my heart) open and peace will reign. Sadly, this is NOT what my mother-in-law chose to do. (But I hope she's having a lovely Mother's Day with Superman's sister and her children--life is too short to hold a grudge...)
From my brother's sweet wife:
I learned you don't have to choose. Regardless of the family drama, you can choose NOT to choose sides and just keep your heart open to all sides. Other's may choose and you can't control that, but family is family and you can just keep that in your heart through it all. You can refuse to speak badly, refuse to engage in the drama and just love everyone. (She's right, but it isn't always easy to do.)
From my sister:
I learned it is never to late to live your dreams. Sometimes life just takes its own sweet time getting you to where you need to be to live them out. Then they're all the sweeter.
From my friends (In Real Life and Bloggy):
In childhood, I learned girls/women can be the harshest critics or the loyalist of supporters. The older we get, the more "true" our relationships can be because we've winnowed down our own personalities and stopped competing. We can celebrate everyone's successes without feeling personally demeaned. We can learn from the experiences of others and we can share knowledge freely, rather than hoarding it.
From one friend and her family, I learned to be brave and leave it all behind to live a little adventure. I watched her be brave (and be scared and be lonely and, ultimately, be happy again) and I thought, I can do this. So, I did. (And I was scared and lonely and, ultimately, happy that I embarked on the adventure--just like I knew I would be.)
From another friend, I learned (and I think I taught) that we're more alike than different and we need to embrace our similarities and respect our differences. We thought we were so different, but we turned out to see each other so clearly and had so much to offer each other. How sad it would have been if we'd let our difference remain all we saw. (She also taught me not to yell all the time...it was a habit and I'm so glad I broke it!)
From my husband and my children:
I've learned my capacity for love is ever increasing. Not only am I surrounded by it, but I give it freely.
So, from my home (and heart) to yours,
Happy Mother's Day...knowing you has made me a better wife and mother (and overall human being) and I appreciate all you've so generously given me.