My #WCW this week was easy. Mother’s Day is behind us and we have all moved on from the cards, flowers, and brunches. But I still have a couple of things to say about my mom.
I last saw my mom in March. Before that it had been two years since I had seen that smile. Maybe it’s because I am a bit older, maybe it is because I am a bit wiser, but with every conversation and with every visit, I am becoming more and more aware of the lessons my mom has taught me and is continuing to teach me.
Here are a few things I learned from her on her last visit:
Take Care of Yourself. The very first stop we made after I picked her up from the airport was to Sally Beauty Supply. We got hair “masks” and face masks. She had brought 16 bottles of nail polish. We may have looked a fright with those masks on, but we had one heck of a time sitting around the table, putting each other’s masks on and meandering around YouTube looking for cute designs to put on our nails. We laughed at videos and marveled at some of the designs these ladies were doing. We took our time. We did things that served absolutely no one but ourselves. And that is ok.
Put your phone down. My mom works mostly from home, so being close to her phone and her laptop is a necessity. Nevertheless, there would be times her phone would ring and she would NOT run to answer it. That little device did not control her life. She was engaged with the people in front of her. The phone could wait.
Labels have only the power you give them. We hear that words are not supposed to hurt us. The truth, though, is that they do. If someone puts a label on you that you would not put on yourself, I do think it is healthy to examine it. Am I selfish? Am I rude? But as you examine it you cannot let it consume you. Be aware of your actions. Be conscious of how your actions affect others. But, ultimately, if the label does not describe the person you actually are– the person that people who love you see– let it go. Do not give the label (and the person doing the labeling) power over your life and your actions. Or, in other words:
Feng Shui. The second day she was here, my mom re-did the girls’ room, had them get rid of 20-something items, and sketched out the different areas of our apartment according to Feung Shui. She made a list of what items and elements needed to be in each section of the house. She swept our front stoop and put coins under our doormat. We painted some rocks gold and cleared everything out from in front of the windows. We put the toilet lids down. We went and got a couple of Feung Shui books. We have a lot of work still to do, but it felt good to de-clutter a bit and make a little room for some good chi.
Get a bigger purse. We were getting ready to head out the door, when my oldest daughter asked me to put something of hers in my purse. She was holding her own purse when she asked, so I told her to put it in there. She responded that her purse wasn’t big enough, to which my mom and I both replied, “Get a bigger purse!” Sometimes we look to others to solve our problems, but if we take a step back the solution is actually quite simple. I wonder how many of the world’s problems could be solved if we only carried a slightly bigger purse…
Pause. Think. Then verbalize (The classic, “If you don’t have anything nice to say….”). We have all heard it a million times, and for good reason. This one was directed at my often-quarreling daughters. They bicker about the most ridiculous things. My first inclination is to remind them of the big picture–my own version of “Eat your Brussels sprouts because there are starving children in Africa.” My mom went a different route: Think Before You Speak. Is this worth fighting over? Are my words helping the situation? Can I find a solution, rather than just complain about the problem?
Until you have seen the sun rise over the Great Smokey Mountains, you haven’t lived. My mom describes herself as a gypsy. And, having lived in multiple states and traveled to a ton of countries, she has walked the walk. As my husband and I are getting older, and our girls are getting less high maintenance, our wanderlust is beginning to grow. There are so many places we want to see, but so little time. We have set some goals (with the guidance of my mama) and we are checking off our list. The bottom line here: Get. Out.
Just because you have the right to say something, doesn’t mean you should. This one was directed at the girls as well. I have tried to be open with them, and have made a real effort to not answer their “But WHY..?!?!?!” with an equally annoying “Because I said so!!!” I haven’t demanded they blindly obey me. In fact, I try to encourage them to formulate their arguments and be able to articulate their point of view. I want them to be able to stand up for themselves. I am afraid of them being victimized (now or in the future) because they have learned that they must do what they are told to do by an authority figure, regardless of how they feel about it. The down side of this is that I get A LOT of backtalk. I mean A LOT. Hearing my kids argue with me was almost too much for my southern mama. She wants them to be able to stand up for themselves, too, but she showed me that they really don’t need to be standing up for themselves so often…against ME! Yes they have the right to express themselves in ways children of past generations never did. But when it comes to things like brushing their teeth and making their beds, just because they have the right to argue does not mean they should.
Vision boards. We talked about having goals for the year, and about writing those goals down. We created vision boards to help us stay focused. I love planning, so the act of writing down some very specific things I want to get done this year and then creating a vision board out of those goals was very cathartic for me. The girls got into it, too. Now, when they are bored, I ask them if they have been working towards anything on their vision boards!
My mom has been through a lot in her life. She has lost loves, survived abuse, and has raised me mostly on her own. Though there are countless lessons she has taught me, one of the biggest is to WORK. You want that job? Work. You want that vacation? Work. You want that house on the hill? Work. No one can look out for you all the time, so you have to take that responsibility on yourself. It sounds a little sad at first, to say that there will not always be someone there to take care of you. But if you think about it, it is really empowering. It means you are in control of your life, your future, your happiness. It means you get to decide what you will do today that serves you. It means you get to learn about you– what makes you feel fulfilled and satisfied and whole. It means the world is at your feet. But it also means: