As Mother’s Day quickly approaches, my thoughts naturally turn to my mother. In particular, I thought about the many things my mom taught me. As any parenting specialist will tell you, children learn the most from what you do, not what you say. From personal experience, I know that this is true. Here are a few things I’ve learned by observing my mother.
Don’t worry what other people think: My mother can’t sing. Oh, most people say they can’t sing, but my mom really can’t. Honest. She sounds like a sick, possibly dying, frog croaking out its last request. Yet, she loves to sing, and so she does….with much enthusiasm. I have fond memories of sitting on the couch, nestled in between my mom and my grandma singing our hearts out. Grandma would be on tune, yet singing lower and lower, Mom would be um…singing, quite loudly and the dog would be howling. Everyone else would have fled to somewhere…anywhere away from us. But it was wonderful. To this day, certain hymns or old time songs bring me back to the couch, singing and giggling with two very special people. As Grandma always said “I sing for my own pleasure and everyone else’s amusement”.
Have Courage: Mom has always been terrified of water for reasons that still aren’t clear to me. Yet, one day she decided to conquer that fear and signed up for a swimming class at the local college. To prepare for this, she sewed herself a special swimsuit. I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure that it was made of some new space age waterproof, shark resistant, anti-sink fabric. To this she added goggles (although these are very common today, I had never seen them as a child) earplugs, nose plugs and a snazzy swim cap complete with pink plastic flowers. The memories are a bit foggy, but it seems to me that she was asked to leave the class because she had clawed and nearly drowned the two instructors while standing in a three foot pool of water. Oh well, at least she tried and that’s all that counts when it comes to true courage.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again: Sometimes the odds can really seem to be stacked against you, yet it’s important to be persistent. Mom tried really hard to teach us kids right from wrong. Well, I was always the good one. It was my baby brother who was the problem child. I still laugh when I remember how Ricky would do something so bad that Mom needed to go get “The Spoon”. The dreaded wooden Spoon was mostly a threat, but upon occasion it would find itself whacking our backsides. The only problem was that my tiny little mom couldn’t catch my big galoot of a brother. She would chase him up and down the hall, her face twisted with determination, yelling at him to “get back here” so she could whack him with that Spoon. He of course would just laugh at her and run just fast enough to stay out of her reach. Yet, Mom never gave up, she’d get him eventually…even if she had to wait for him to fall asleep!
Learn from your mistakes: Mom’s biggest mistake with Ricky was not realizing that her sweet little baby boy would get to be such a huge thing. So, when Shaun (who is basically an overgrown boy) came into our lives, she knew exactly what to do…Psychological Warfare. Shaun hadn't had much of a chance to build a relationship with my family when we decided to drive up to Los Angeles. We were going to visit my aunt and bring my mom with us. I recall that it was dark and I sat in the back seat so that Shaun and Mom could chat. Next thing I knew, I was waking up to the sound of my mother making very loud accelerating and braking noises and turning the steering wheel vigorously back and forth. Only she was in the passenger seat and Shaun was in the driver’s seat with a terrified look on his face. Sigh…I just went back to sleep and let them sort it out. It wouldn't have been the first boyfriend she had scared off. Another thing that Mom did that haunted Shaun for years was to casually mention to him that everyday she watered all of my dad’s iron junk that in the back yard. Her theory was that it would rust his treasures away more quickly. The thought that someone could be so patient in their evilness horrified him. Mom was quite pleased with the way her Psychological Warfare plan was working out. She would never have to worry about chasing Shaun around the way she had done with Ricky.
What doesn’t kill you makes you strong: If one could truly die of embarrassment, I’m sure I would be well dead by now. But, I survived growing up with my mother and well, I’m tough, not much fazes me now! It’s interesting to find that the cycle is repeating itself. I’ve found out that it really, truly is fun to embarrass your children. I have so much to teach them!