What I learned from my mother (so far)

Happy Mother's Day! Today I thought it would be fitting to honor the amazing mother God saw fit to give me. She's my best friend, a loving grandmother and all-around wonderful lady. While all the things she has taught me over the years would never fit in this convenient space (and some defy even words), here's some of the important things my Mum has taught me (so far):  

1) You never know what someone is going through so cut them some slack - Mum has never actually said this-and I'm fairly certain "cut them some slack" is not in her vocabulary-but she was really good at getting the point across. She would quietly whisper: "Just so you know, Sarah just lost her job" if I told her Sarah had snapped at me, etc. No judgement on either side. Just a suggestion that Sarah was going through a rough time so I shouldn't take what she said personally. Albiet there are some people who are just plain mean but this rule works in general and is a good way to remember that I'm not the center of the universe.

2) To have a love for classic literature - Austen, the Bronte sisters and even Alcott were all on my bookshelf growing up courtesy of Mum. In fact, we both can practically quote several chapters of Pride and Prejudice alone verbatum. ("She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me. I am in no humor at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men." You have to love Darcy!). Mum's love for these beautiful writers is contagious and, really, they are what a young girl ought to be reading. Elizabeth Bennett, Catherine Earnshaw and Jo March are no shrinking violets not to mention that their creators were some extremely talented authors.

3) Have a short term memory of hurts - Mum exemplifies this better than anyone I've ever known. When my siblings and I were rude as teens, she wouldn't carry it around or even throw it back in our faces as I've seen some parents do. In fact, I've seen her bring meals and send Christmas cards to some people I personally would have written off as just plain unreasonable. But her lesson which she lives on a daily basis is in essence: Let it go, drop the pride and move on.

4) Parents can make great friends when you're an adult if you let them - Much like my Mum and my grandmother modeled, a mother can be a great resource and a great friend. Now that we're past the point where she still needs to "mother" me, Mum is an excellent best friend.  Really, she knows me a lot better than most people which is an added bonus. Mum is just a wonderful friend with real world experience to share and a similar interest in really good books (see #2). This is not to mention the fact that whenever we chat on the phone the minimum time is generally an hour, shopping trips are always fun and

5) As far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men (Romans 12:18) - See #3. Family members will be rude, employers will be absolutely awful and people will just plain not like you. But as Mum emulated, just make sure it's not because of anything you did or said wrong, apologize as necessary and then move on. Afterward, if they are still holding a grudge or just being plain ornery, that's not your problem. "Just keep being you," she always says. Translation: Don't let others dictate how you react because two wrongs don't make a right... but two Wrights make an airplane (sorry, bad pun!).

6) Make everyone feel welcome - At church, at work, at home, it's our job to make everyone feel as though they are welcome and that they are not just part of the group, they're family. This is something Mum is really passionate about because these days there is so much "me (selfish) culture" going around and so looking outside yourself is so important. Not to mention (see #1) that you never know if they are having a rough time and yours is the only smile they'll see that day.

7) A meal is the shortest distance between two people - (also see #6) Food is what brings us all together even if we have nothing else in common. Especially when it comes to getting together with family or friends, breaking bread together is almost a requirement as it forces you to sit, slow down and face each other. As an aside the best meals do include some form of chocolate for dessert as the pièce de résistance because, really, who doesn't like chocolate?

8) It's okay to be yourself - Mum had three very unique children with three very different sets of interests. All of which she encouraged us in and did her best to help us cultivate even if what we were interested in wasn't particularly "cool" at the time. None of us were required to be clones of each other and her delight has always been in our very distinct differences.

9) Be gentle and strong (Proverbs 31:26) - Especially when it comes to personal relationships, gentle is best but balancing it with being strong (not a pushover) takes some practice. What I have observed is to be gentle with babies and hearts in general but not afraid to stand up for what is right or to correct where necessary. Because no one likes a "know it all" but some things need to be said, gentleness is best. And people just need to know they are loved and the reason you are speaking up is because you care, not to show that you're better or smarter.

10) You can never have too much tea - Another love passed down from Mum. The ritual of an afternoon cup of tea is alive and well in my house thanks to her. How better to sit and slow down? There's just something about a good cup of tea that soothes the weariest of souls on a stressful day. Of course, teatime is best when exercised with loved ones and friends!

11) Never go to bed with a dirty kitchen sink - One of Mum's "rules" for as long as I can remember and one I'll admit I thought a little ridiculous-particularly when she was exhausted-until I had my own home. It usually just takes a few minutes and gives you a feeling of accomplishment. This is not to mention that you are pretty much guaranteed sleep free of dirty dish nightmares (much like those nightmares where you show up to work in your Hello Kitty pajamas). Besides, who really wants to wake up to dirty dishes in the sink, anyway? Not this gal.

12)  It's always a good time to dance - While cooking in the kitchen, vacuuming, or watching television, things are just more fun if you add some music and dance. The best part is that you can be as goofy or serious as you would like and you burn some calories in the process.

Love you, Mum!

What is something important you've learned from your mother? 

(photo by subhadipin)



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Jenn's books

Mansfield Park
An Assembly Such as This
Eight Cousins
The Scarlet Pimpernel
Little House in the Big Woods
A Little Princess
The Captive
On the Night of the Seventh Moon
The India Fan
Mistress of Mellyn
The Hiding Place
Anne of Green Gables
The Apothecary's Daughter
Redeeming Love
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
The Diary of a Young Girl
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
I Know What You're Thinking: Using the Four Codes of Reading People to Improve Your Life
A Room with a View
Northanger Abbey, Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon

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