My mom’s birthday is today – Happy Birthday Mom!! I saw her this weekend and we were talking about what characteristics each one of us inherited from her and dad. My brother was her exact replica – the extreme analytical, can’t visualize to save their life, and must break everything down in steps before feeling comfortable with taking a step forward. I’m the hybrid between the two. I have my mom’s analytical side (and somehow got a creative streak but we think that was from a generation before) and I have my dad’s blunt and self-sufficient side.
In some ways my mom and I could not be more different. Redoing her dining room was quite the challenge: I had to tame the free spirited creative so she could see step by step what I was doing and then tell me she didn’t like it. It ended up being beige. Beige! But she was happy and that was the whole point. I have bright vibrant colors in my house, she has beige.
One of her favorite sayings is “be sweet”. I think she started saying this because of me – she had to come up with something that fit her style. She has said that to me thousands of times throughout my lifetime.
My mom tempers everything she says with sugar and honey. She is pretty consistent in thinking through how to state something in a non-threatening and sweet manner. When my nephew was being a teenage jerk she was tempered, gentle and kind. I told him he was being an ass and smacked him upside the back of the head.
As we are supposed grown ups I see my mom in a new light – as a person, not just a mother. There are things I may not agree with but I will respect because she is my mother. There are things about me that she does not agree with, but she respects because I am her daughter.
I have learned so much from my mother – some things I want to emulate, others I want to avoid. (Remember that bluntness from my father….) However these are some of the lessons I learned from my mother:
Be sweet – still working on that. She treats everyone she speaks to with respect and dignity. She sees no ethnic, social or economic boundaries – she sees people.
The world is a small place. She gives compliments at random and has conversations with anyone in the general vicinity wherever she goes. She always has some little story or quip about someone she was talking to in line somewhere whose child’s first boyfriend’s mother went to the same school as her. There is always some six degree of separation connection and she will find it.
Love of animals. I grew up with four dogs, three cats, mudpuppies and fish. It was a controlled zoo, but a zoo nonetheless. Is it any surprise that I have five dogs? Really? It was a running joke in our family about my mom’s big heart for animals. My uncle and aunt had a cabin in Brown County when I was growing up and we used to take weekend trips there. One weekend we arrived to find a dog on the front porch. Turns out it showed up the weekend before when my uncle and aunt were there and they gave it enough food and water to keep it around for the week until we got there because they knew we would take it home.
Motherhood aint pretty. First of all she had me as a kid. But as we got older I saw how she handled with grace the challenges that faced us all and was a rock as a mother. About 25 years ago my brother went to college in Texas. I love Texas, at that time Texas did not like certain things. My brother was gay (I saw was because he passed several years ago). Texas did not particularly like homosexuals. He was also very active within the gay community for a new and unknown illness and spoke at rallies, gatherings and anywhere people in the community would listen – the illness was AIDS. He was an advocate, a leader. He was also threatened by his college to stop being so active or they would revoke his scholarship. This was devastating to my mother. My brother stood up to the college and continued his mission and she supported him every step of the way.
Internal strength. My mother lost her mother, her first born and her husband all within about a year’s time. My dad was the last to pass and the day he died she had gone to take my nephew to the sitter and I was alone with my father. He passed while she was gone. I remember telling my mom how sorry I was that she was not there, she gently patted my arm and comforted me by telling me that they had 30 years together, 30 minutes was not going to make a difference. She continued to put her foot in front of the day after day and regain her strength, vitality and life. What would destroy some she accepted and moved forward.
Optimism. A decade after my father passed my mom reconnected with her high school sweetheart from 40 years prior. They have been married about three years now. Life is hard and sometimes unjust, but keep looking for the good and the good will come. Her husband is a wonderful man to her and the family. In no way do we see him as a replacement or similar to my father – he is Jim, his own man who has his own special place in our family.
Family is family – period. I grew up with three families – my mom’s, my dad’s and my brothers. My brother’s father is a great guy and he and my mom were young. When they divorced my mom told his mother that not only would she and the family not loose my brother, but that my mom expected them to treat any of her future children as they would my brother. And they did. I had three sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Family gatherings were held with every family and everyone was supportive of each other. Never, not once, did I ever hear a disparaging word from one family member about another – never. Many people were surprised that I stepped in as caregiver to my ex-husband when he went through cancer and that we have built a strong friendship. That is how I was raised so I didn’t and don’t think twice about it.
I am blessed that I get to spend time with my mom and she is very much a part of my life, many people do not. In honor of my mom do me a favor, if your mom is still with us, give her a call and be sweet!
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.