Lessons from My Mother


Mother’s Day was yesterday. It was my first Mother’s Day away from my mama. It was a little hard, I’ll be honest. My family had a great weekend together back home, and despite having a great weekend here in Kansas City I was still a little homesick.

My brother, myself, and my mama -- the day I moved to Kansas City from Illinois.

My brother, myself, and my mama — the day I moved to Kansas City from Illinois.

Luckily, I had plenty to do with friends (and Nightwolf) so, I kept busy. But, this isn’t about me. It’s about my mama. The day after Mother’s Day, we go back to “life as usual” — Mother’s Day is a day on the calendar that we celebrate, and then we go back to our everyday lives. Now, maybe I’m just a bit biased because my mom is the coolest, but I’m going to try and stretch it out a little longer. I mean, our moms are moms all year round. I personally think one day is kind of a measly thank you.

I mean, not only did Mama give me life, she taught me how to live, and live well. Here’s some of the greatest lessons she’s given me:

  1. Stand tall. Mama is a respect-commanding 5’2″. (She looks tall next to me, standing an intimidating 4’10”.) Whether it was physically, or theoretically in the face of a challenge, my mom is pretty good and holding her head high and standing her ground. Factor in the stubbornness and temper I was known for as a teenager and you can imagine things got pretty explosive.
  2. Love deeply. I mean, this is a given. My mama loves me, night and day, even from 500 miles away. She supports me in my crazy endeavors, and even if she doesn’t support something I DO she still loves me. That’s pretty cool stuff there, folks.

    Mama and Kelly band concert

    Mama paid for eight years of private flute lessons for me. She drove me to contests, concerts, band camps, honor bands at colleges that were hours away from home. She helped run the band boosters, she bought instruments and uniforms. In college, she drove nearly two-hours one way just to see my concerts. This is after one of those college concerts. She knew I loved playing the flute, so she did everything she could to enable it.

  3. Forgive others. Things don’t always go right in life, and people don’t always live up to our hopes and expectations. Sometimes, others can hurt us — even those we are closest to. No matter how many times I or a sibling sassed back, no matter how many times another family member did something inconsiderate or hurtful, she has forgiveness to offer up. And after that, she typically transitions back into Lesson #2, Love.
  4. Protect family. “Family” is a loose term. I have many friends who have grown up knowing my mother as “Mama Joy” — a second mama. But, once you are in the family, you are to be loved and protected and supported. I’ll never forget when a high school English teacher accused me of plagiarism. Holy smokes, there was an aftermath. (This lesson is probably why I got in a shouting match with a drunk man on the sidewalk once because he tried to pick up my dog, who was terrified of him. Don’t mess with my dog, people.)
  5. Make time. For what? For the things that matter. For family, for friends, for pets, for quiet moments, for nature, for the things that matter. Mama has spent most of her life taking care of others and being way too busy, yet I still have some pretty fantastic memories of sitting on our back deck with her, watching the sunset. Or, drinking morning coffee. Or, just relaxing. Now her quiet moments are spent watching the river, and walking in the woods, punctuated by the pandemonium that her grandchildren bring. (I’m the youngest of four, and I have several nieces and nephews.) Whether it’s a raucous occasion where my entire loud family gets together, or a calm moment of bonding between her and my stepfather by the bonfire, or an energetic phone call with me, she makes time for the things that truly matter in life.

    Mama and my stepdad with two of their grandkids on the boat in Illinois.

    Mama and my stepdad with two of their grandkids on the boat in Illinois.

  6. Say no. Not all the time. Not every day. But, now and then, learn to say “no” when someone asks you for something. My mother is one of the most generous, giving people I know. Even when she doesn’t have much to give, she gives what she DOES have. Sometimes what she gives is time, energy, and compassion, sometimes it’s more concrete than that. But, she also knows the value of saying “no.” We can’t be everything to everyone, and sometimes taking care of ourselves and our own matters more. I struggle with this lesson, but I’m getting better.
  7. Say yes. And on the flip-side, say yes to the strange opportunities that life brings you. Say yes to the little voice in your head or the feeling in your gut that tells you that this is what you’re meant to do. Say yes to faith, to hunches, and to serendipity. Sometimes life hands us things we don’t expect — sometimes we can’t fully understand them until down the road. But, sometimes you come to that intersection where “once in a lifetime” meets “time for action” and you jump. There’s a few of those times I remember from childhood, but she and my stepdad turning an abandoned track of forest into a home is a great example. And, it showed me that taking that leap can be good. And here I am in Kansas City, the happiest I’ve been in a long time.
  8. Have faith. This goes hand-in-hand with #7, but is probably even deeper-rooted. Sometimes, our “leaps” don’t work out, but both my mother and I believe that happens for a reason. Sometimes, we have to deal with disappointment to learn and grow. Whether it’s the faith that God will provide and everything will work out, or the faith that when it doesn’t something better will come together, faith is important.

These are just a sample of the amazing lessons I’ve learned from an amazing woman. Here’s to many mother Mother’s Days to you, Mama. Thank you for helping me grow into the quirky, driven, creative, compassionate, strong individual I am.

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4 thoughts on “Lessons from My Mother

    • HA! Who needs more coffee, the one who clicked the Lego link or the one who posted it in the first place? I got a really good laugh over that goof-up after the fact. It seemed oddly fitting.

      Us short ladies need to be able to command the room! Thanks so much for swinging by and sharing, Deb!

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