There is nothing more tender than a child's heart, or the seeds a mother places there.
My childhood was neither Norman Rockwell or Mommy Dearest, it was a simple benign existence, really quite ordinary, with highs and lows just as anyone else. There are periods - years actually - to which I have no memory at all, and there are moments still so clear I can almost smell the aroma of baking bread.
Yesterday was Mothers Day, and unlike the hundreds of people who posted happy photos of their mothers with gushing words of adoration and thanks, I wasn't moved to do so. It's not that she wasn't deserving, but that by way of her death many years ago, our relationship had grown deeper and quieter.
Instead, throughout the day, I found myself reflecting on the little things I learn from her, and her example that has served my life well. I say little things because they weren't all profound moments of learning, but subtle nuances of observing how she lived her life. These lessons have surfaced over and over again in the moments I needed them most.
Love is big.
These words tumbled back to me when my daughter asked me, "Mommy, is it was okay if I love my new step mother?"
Ouch! In truth, the idea felt a bit threatening at first, but as I reflected on what it meant to say yes, I realized the love she felt for me would in no way be minimized because she loved someone else; I did not love any of my children less at the birth of their siblings. The heart is endless and love is truly that big!
Debt is a four letter word.
This wasn't meant in the literal sense, although it does fit! She re-purposed before it was popular and she saved for the things she dreamed about. She made it very clear that if you didn't have the money today, it wasn't going to be there tomorrow either.
She taught us how to budget, save, keep a checking account. She taught us about compound interest; both good and bad. But it was the idea of debt being distasteful or harmful that has guided me to living a life without debt or the desire to buy things I can't afford. It has also taught me the discipline and reward of delayed gratification.
The soul has no color.
Brown skin, white skin, blue eyes or green, these do not define us. We are what lies within, and the soul has no color.
These were the words my mother shared with two tearful children horrified by the witness of prejudice. At the tender age of 11, Anthony B. Dotson, a sweet African American boy presented me with a love letter. A man in my fathers military battalion witnessed it and tore into poor Anthony about how "Niggers" (hard to even write the word) have no business even talking to "White" girls. As my father pulled the soldier up by the shirt collar, made him apologize and escorted him away, my mother wiped the dirt stained tears from our cheeks and explained to both of us how wrong and hurtful he was and that we were both beautiful, perfect, and worthy just as we were. She then gently placed one hand on each of our chests and said, "the soul has no color, only look for the within". This moment has never left me.
Do first, what you want to do least.
I hated these words as a kid, but as an adult, they have provided me a sense of relief and peace.
Life is overwhelming enough and when we let things pile up; difficult conversations, grueling and boring tasks, bills, you name it, when we put them off, they start to weigh us down. If you start every day with getting rid of the "ugh", life just feels easier!
Never share anger or disappointment with anyone but the person with whom you are upset.
When a girlfriend in college - with whom I had shared my displease over a guy I liked - disliked him even when I came to love him, I remembered and understood these words.
When we include others into the mix of our differences with a person or situation, they are left carrying the burden. Such things are usually shared in confidence, so while we have the opportunity to work past our issues with the person or situation, the secret keeper does not.
Forgiveness is a gift we give to ourselves.
There was no time more profound in which to understand this wisdom than during my divorce.
To hold on to the anger and hurt by the acts of another is to allow them to affect your life forever. The truth is they have likely moved on and have either justified or don't remember what they have done to hurt you. When you let go and forgive (this doesn't mean let them back in), you are gifting yourself the ability to move forward with your life, unencumbered by that which isn't in your control anyway.
These few, and so many more words and life examples were gifted to me by my mother. I don't recall them in list form, but I find they and she, are called to life when I need them most.