When I was a kid, I knew the easiest way to get a “yes” from my mom was to ask while she was reading a book. She’s one of those people that gets so lost in stories, that the permission slip I’d slide under hand was a blurry distraction that she simply wanted to dispose of – no review needed. (Ask her poor husband; an evening with Stephen King means she’s reliving the stories in her sleep and he wakes up with a few bruises).
And that is probably one of the first habits I picked up from my mother – the joy of reading (which likely led to my fondness for writing – so awordorthree.com is her fault too).
But that’s not all. For the past several years, I’ve joked that when I open my mouth, my mother come out. But the past couple months as we talk almost every day through this wedding planning process, it is crystal clear – just about every part of me that is good can be traced back to her. And I’m ok with that because she’s so dope. And she’s not selfish. So I shouldn’t be either, right? So here’s a gift for you. Here are four lessons she taught me that really could make the world a better place if we all adhered to them.
On Fashion: Quality Matters – Designers Don’t. Starter jackets, Jordans, Tommy Hilfiger… these are all name brands I remember from my childhood… on the backs and feet of my classmates, not myself. My clothes were tasteful and practical – but definitely not branded or flashy. Like any other kid, I desperately wanted FUBU – but as an adult who works in advertising and knows the hustle, I am so grateful she spent that money on encyclopedias and dial-up Internet instead. I feel like adults are being duped when they pose in a way that expertly reveals the bright signature red bottoms of Loubotins or hold a purse that strategically places the Louis Vuitton logo front and center as if the brand was paying them to be a billboard. Why pay a premium to advertise some stranger’s brand?! Isn’t this backwards? (And now I sound judgey so I’m still not my mom yet… #imworkingonit)
On Family – It’s natural to disagree and fight, but outside of our house – it’s your family versus everybody else. I have been suspended once. My sister and I got into a fight on the school bus. The principal called my mother to inform her that we were being suspended. I remember her saying “Well who where they fighting and why?” When the principal shared, “Ah… each other” the silence that followed was so loud my ears burned. For her, fighting is bad. But fighting your sister is an unspeakable crime. The day we were suspended was a day we spent priming and staining the largest fence of all time and we haven’t fought since. Even now the smell of primer gives me a back ache.
On Forgiveness - People will not deserve it. Give it anyway. You’ll likely need the same favor. My mother has this uncanny way of letting you know that she is on your side, while gently helping you to see things from a different perspective that allows for grace. I can’t tell you how many conversations sound like this:
Me: Mom, you won’t BELIEVE what she said! And then she had the nerve to….!”
Mom: Now that is crazy. Mmph. Mmph. Mmm. She definitely was out of line. You know, maybe this is new for her and she’s just trying to get acclimated. Give it a few days, then invite her over for dessert. Anyone that acts like that needs our prayer and some ice cream.
Some of my bestest friendships have been saved by my mother’s diplomacy. Maybe we should send her to Syria.
On Forevers. Last summer, I was sitting in the back seat with my mother, her husband and my (then boyfriend now fiancé) were in the front, and we were headed to the airport back to LA after a great family vacation. My mom nodded in Eskias’ direction, waited a beat and then she said: “You did good.” My parents’ marriage didn’t work out, but my mother didn’t give up on love. Despite experiencing heart break I can’t even begin to describe, she somehow found a way to open her heart, accept love and surrender 100% to it. She is a living example that the last love of your life can overcome the failed first (and let’s be honest, the second and third one and so forth).
That’s all I got for now because I’m still working on sharing and I’m already upset that people feel the need to call her Auntie and Mom. I can be territorial.
What lessons have you learned from your parents? Are you becoming more and more like them every day?