Today, we celebrate all the mamas out there: real, quasi, fur – it doesn’t matter whom you are, you’re worth celebrating! I spent the morning with my three mothers. Yep, you read that right – three! I’m lucky enough to not only have one amazing mother, but to have her two best friends, Karen and Lawre, as “mothers” too. It’s true what they say about friends being like family – these friends ARE family to me.
Now, I know everyone thinks that their mother is the best, but I’m pretty sure mine actually is. And to prove it, I thought I’d use this Mother’s Day post to share five things I learned from my Mom.She had a life before me, and still does
“I’m a person. I have rights!” This is one of my mother’s most often uttered phrases. Now, some of that is just born out of silliness (see #3), but it is also to remind my brother and me that her sole purpose in life is not just to be our mother. She is also a woman who exists without the role of parent, wife, friend, etc. attached to her name. I have many friends who don’t know much about what their parents were like before they were born – their only real sense of their mother is as their mother. Growing up, my mother made sure that that was not the case for my brother and me. She told us stories of her childhood and what it was like to grow up in a single-parent household in the 50s (and to lose her mother in her 20s). I know all about her awkward high school years and her college roommates. She didn’t even shy away from telling us about her first marriage, and why it failed. The point is – my brother and I know my mother as a full person, not just our mother. And we’re better off for it.
The value of friendship
My mom has a LOT of friends. Some friends, like Karen, are more like family and have been in her life for 40+ years. Others, like Linda, are newer, while still more (many more) fit somewhere in between. A lot of these women consider my mother their best friend. And there’s a reason for that: my mother is a very good friend. She values her relationships and gives them the time and attention they deserve. She talks on the phone, she writes (very) lengthy emails, she plans shopping excursions, lunches, and dinner parties, she dishes out an equal amount of laughter and sage advice. In short – she makes the effort. It’s a lesson I hold near to my heart, and one I’d like to think I’ve put into practice in my own life. You can never have too many girlfriends.
Don’t take things too seriously
My mom is one of the silliest people I know. She says that being a mother is what made her silly. When my brother and I were young, she stayed at home with us and the days got loooong. She needed a way to entertain herself – being silly was a necessity! Luckily, the silliness didn’t fade as we grew older and she went back to work. One of my favorite examples is her telling my brother, “if you don’t get out of bed this instant, I am going to take a tiny piece of your skin and pinch it” (all in good fun….right?!). Or her singing “a hubbard [squash] a day keeps the doctor away, a hubbard a day”. Weird? Yes. Silly? Yes! People always talk about being “funny”, but in my opinion, silliness is a highly underrated quality. When I find myself taking things to seriously, I try to channel my mother and insert some silliness!
The importance of health
If you’ve been reading O-HI-30 for some time now, then you’ve definitely seen the influence my mother has had on my lifestyle. Growing up, she made sure that we had a healthy dinner on the table every night – after she went to her exercise class. She didn’t feed us grilled cheese made with kraft singles and white bread, but never denied me a third cookie if I wanted it (and I always did). She exercised when exercise was barely a thing. I often hear women say that they put their own needs behind the needs of their family, but my mother showed me that making time for yourself isn’t selfish – it’s a necessity. It was just one more way that she demonstrated that she “is a person” and that she “has rights” (see above)!
Paving your own way
My mother lost her mother when she was just 22, fresh out of college and vulnerable. She married and spent five years with the wrong guy before divorcing him at 27. The next three years of her life she talks about fondly as some of the best of her life – going dancing with gay friends at 12 AM, eating Campbell’s bean soup in her single gal apartment when she got home from the bar at 4 AM. At age 30, she met my dad, just 25, and spent the next 5 years falling madly in love but not pushing for marriage and kids. After living together for years, my parents decided they did want that life, and my mom became pregnant at age 35 – fairly uncommon for the time. She had my brother at the age of 38. The point is, my Mom paved her own way, and in doing so she showed me that getting married at 23 and having 3 kids by the age of 30 is not the only way to a fulfilling life. And that’s a powerful lesson.
I love you, Mom! Thanks for being you.