Monday, May 11, 2009

10 Things I Learned from my Mom

I've learned so much from my mother over the years, but certain things really stand out as stuff SHE, in particular, taught me. I've also realized since becoming an adult myself, that all mothers don't teach their daughters these things. As I've read more on the internet, read more organizational strategies for stay-at-home-moms, listened to my friends' struggles, etc., I've begun to realize what a tremendous wealth my mother has given to me through her life of faith, her specific lessons on various domestic duties, and her many informal discussions with me.

As I think through my current life with all its duties and delights (husband, preschooler, twin toddlers, house to care for, etc.), 10 lessons really stand out. These are the top 10 things my mother has imparted to me throughout my 30+ years of life that I daily use/ponder/enjoy. Of course there are many other things, perhaps more spiritual things, but I tried not to overspiritualize this or make it more profound than it sounds. Sometimes, a simple technique for ironing really can enrich your life :). Without further ado (and in no particular order):

  1. Weekly grocery shopping list/menu. Apparently, many women do not make up a weekly menu or even a grocery list. How you can live without these simple organizational tools, I do not know. Really, I don't. It seems so self-evident to me. But, then again, that's because I have so many memories of casual conversations with my mother about what we were going to eat during the coming week. What meat was on sale and therefore, what would go well with that roast or ham? Then, she'd make up her list.
  2. Eat your veggies! Again, when I read suggestions for how to eat healthily, I am astounded that people don't already know these things and follow them without really thinking about them. Sure, I try to maximize nutrition because I'm a bit of a health nut, but in reality, I could never, ever plan a meal without some sort of vegetable side. This is not just because I love to plan nutritious meals; it's because my mother cooked that way! We always had fruit at breakfast and lunch and generally two vegetable sides at dinner. These weren't exotic; I never tasted butternut squash until after I'd graduated from college. I didn't learn to like green peppers until I was in college. I still do not like eggplant or raw tomatoes. But, I really, truly enjoy so many other vegetables, largely thanks to my Mom.
  3. The most efficient way to iron a button down shirt. (someday I'll post this method.)
  4. Laundry: Most people seem to learn this by trial and error in college. I, however, have breezed through my laundry career with very few pink loads of formerly white clothes. I can remember vivid examples in the past year, but for some reason, until I had children and all extra brain cells went to combat fatigue, I'd never turned a load of clothes into a different color.This is because my mother taught me how to to do laundry.
  5. An appreciation for classical music. This, to me, is the ideal calming background music. But it's also something to savor and enjoy. This is what was always on in our house growing up.
  6. Keeping up with current events. This is something I'm particularly poor at right now, but I feel guilty about it! Not because my neighbors are very into current events, not even because my husband has strong opinions. I feel guilty because in my mind, all good wives and mothers should also be able to to vote intelligently; after all, my mother always did.
  7. Not complaining when following your husband's call. Perhaps my mother complained out of our presence--I don't know, but I have come to greatly admire her lack of complaining, especially from my memory of our time in a rental house. My dad was church planting in North Carolina, and for five years we lived in a rental house. Looking back now, with a renewed appreciation of my mother's innate aesthetic sense, that house must have been hard to live in--pretty plain to start with and limited opportunities for improvement. We did take down the lion/safari curtains in one room, but that's about it.... I'm sure there have been many times in her life where supporting my dad in ministry has led her into situations she'd rather not have gone (maybe the frequent nursery duty wasn't her cup of tea; I'll never know because she didn't complain). This following of my dad's call has also led her to some pretty cool places--New Zealand, Israel, Uganda.
  8. Using your gifts to enrich your children's lives. Even though my mother has much higher standards of cleanliness than I do currently, I still remember her playing with us so much more than I feel like I do with my own kids! She must have cleaned house, but I remember her enriching our lives instead. And, not only play, but draw!! She's an artist and would draw pages of flowers for us to color--we liked hers much better than any coloring book. She painted a big mural on our bedroom wall of a tree with an orange cat in it. She made or helped us make great Halloween costumes when we were little. Her creativity even extended to "surprise lunches."
  9. Laughter/Enjoyment. My mom used to ask us to "wash" the outside windows. That meant: get our swimsuits on, get the hose out, and get a big bucket of soapy water. Great fun. She laughs a lot when she's with my children--reminding me in the process without speaking a word to enjoy them as much as possible.
  10. Critical Thinking Skills. Perhaps some people think you're supposed to learn this in school. But, if you have a mother who enjoys discussing issues, faith, circumstances, new information in the news, then you're already developing and using critical thinking skills without needing school to teach them to you.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

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