I recently had an argument with my son about black suits. We went shopping for a new suit and he kept pulling out black jackets. I told him that at fourteen he had no real need for a solid black suit. Black suits were for funerals and very formal occasions, I explained, far too fancy for regular church services. Motherhood is full of teaching moments, important lessons and inconsequential lessons. Who knows if my son will even remember this little lesson about formal and informal suits based on color and cut.
Its funny sometimes to reflect on the lessons that have stayed with you. I was thinking of a few of the gems I’ve learned from my own mother.
- If you’re going to cut your hair short, do it in the winter. When its hot you’re going to want to be able to pull it back and off your neck.
- When buying eye glasses, pick a frame that matches your hair color- they will flatter your face.
- Never wear white or black to a wedding (I know this rule is considered old fashioned now, but I’m a die hard)
- Butter and real maple syrup.
- Don’t stay in hotels near pawn shops and don’t make eye contact with anyone on the street near a pawn shop.
I learned the hard way to always pack shampoo on a vacation. When I was fourteen my mom, sister and I took a road trip through Texas to the Gulf of Mexico. The first morning on our trip I realized I didn’t have shampoo and I don’t think our motel offered any either. I asked my mom where the shampoo was- because surely it was her responsibility as Mom to make sure those things were packed! Mom was not amused or willing to share her shampoo and my sister and I were on our own for not packing any. Its something we all laugh about. At the time though I was mortified that I couldn’t wash my hair, I think I even resorted to bar soap a few times. In hindsight I don’t know why it never occurred to me to go to the nearest drug store and buy a bottle…but it didn’t. Life lesson learned.
At thirty-eight, I am still learning lessons from my mother, and I hope I never stop. My mother is amazing at supporting her daughters even when she thinks we are crazy or cannot see the logic in our choices. There were times when I made choices I knew my mother wasn’t happy about (getting married at twenty!), but she always, always supported me. As my own children are ageing and beginning to make their own independent choices- some of which I don’t agree with, I feel crazy, frustrated and helpless. I recently asked my mother how she was able to be so supportive when my sister and I were sometimes making stupid choices. Her response just left me in awe. She told me she knew that she wasn’t always right, and that sometimes there is more than one way to do something, or an avenue that maybe she can’t see. I have been trying so hard to remember this as I ride the crazy roller coaster of raising teenagers…I’m trying to learn humility.
My parents divorced when I was very young and to be honest it still has ripple effects in my life today. The silver lining (more like platinum) in their divorce is that I now have Kathy in my life. She and my father married when I was seven, and I love her. Because of Kathy I’ve been known to say “hooray for broken families!” I could not have asked for a better step mother. I’ve learned a few little gems from her along the way too.
- Never wear navy with black.
- Your purse, belt and shoes should always match (I’ve given up on the purse bit).
- Easter means new spring sandals!
- There is always something to laugh about, even in the midst of challenges.
- When eating a sandwich that has been cut into two triangles, you always eat from the end, not the center.
I laugh more with Kathy than anyone else in my life, she can take an ordinary situation and make it funny. When I was twelve or thirteen Kathy, my sister and I were all at the mall flipping through a clothing rack. Kathy pulled out a shirt that looked more like a leotard but with intentional under-wire cups (this was the 90’s), she held it up to us and said, “Its a fill-in-the-blanks shirt”. I’m not sure what it was about how she said it, but my sister and I busted up laughing. For years after that when we saw shirts like that we’d call them fill-in-the-blanks and chuckle to ourselves.
I’m so grateful to have her in my life, I’m so thankful for her listening ear and her patience. She is probably one of the best listeners I know, sometimes I get off the phone and wonder if I even let her get a word in edgewise but she never makes me feel like I’ve monopolized the conversation.
I am so lucky to have these two women in my life. I am a better person because of them, who I am today is because of them and their love for me (Dad gets credit too!).
Mom- thank you for never giving up on me, even when times were really hard. As a mother myself I understand some of the pain and sacrifice that comes from not giving up on your kid. I Love You.
Kathy- thank you for always listening to me, for being my friend, for making me laugh. You accepted me from day one. I Love you.
Happy Mother’s Day