Recently I’ve told myself more and more often how much like my mother I am. Our personalities have always been similar. Strong willed and opinionated is stating it mildly. I’m proud of the lessons she taught me growing up. Things she took the time to be sure and teach me. Skills she gave me to be a productive and worthy member of our world. But perhaps some of the greatest lessons my mother taught me are the ones I learned by watching her and hearing the things she held in her heart….. 

Your circumstances or better yet, your hardest moments, do not dictate your joy

I won’t bore you with the same old mantra of how we didn’t have money but we always had love. Although that is true,this lesson went much deeper than that. I don’t ever remember my mom allowing her inner joy or attitude be affected by the external tests of fortitude I know she faced as the mom of a large family. I remember my mom counting change to pay bills, buy food, and send me to camp but somehow she never failed to do any of it without a smile on her face. 

Children are a BLESSING. That’s all there is to that

My parents chose to leave well paying jobs behind in the rat race, move across the country, and pursue a slower pace in life. Hand in hand with that decision our once ‘status quo’ family grew by more than a couple new members. Sometimes my mom was on the receiving end of some rather unkind and ridiculous comments. Things that now as an adult I am shocked people had the lack of class to say. 

One of my favorites was the following (surprisingly often repeated) conversation:

Child Patrol: Are these all your kids?

Mom: Yes! Aren’t I blessed? 

Patrol: Don’t you know what causes them?

Mom: Yep!! Why do you think I smile so much? 

Patrol: 🤤

Now that I really understand what my very conservative mom was saying I love this response even more. 

She always responded that she was blessed. What we heard as her children was that WE WERE BLESSINGS! 

When I found the man I was going to marry those same self appointed child patrol officers asked if I was ‘going to be like my mom’. My response was ‘I hope so!’ She had already determined for me that our future children were going to be a blessing!! And they are!! 

•Ya’ll be kind to each other! You’re the best friends you will ever have!•

My mom often had to yell this while pulling 2 or more of the crew apart. Haha!! 

But as we grew we realized how right she was. We are the best friends any of us have ever had. We rise to every occasion and have each other’s backs in a heart beat. We miss each other and love the times we get to spend together. As we get older and watch each one start and raise their own families I realize how proud I am of these best friends of mine and how very blessed I am to have each one of them. 

•If you hurry through life you are going to miss some of the best parts•

Listen close to this one. If you’re ever in a hurry- DO NOT go shopping, sight seeing, or pretty generally anywhere with my mom! You see, my mom knows something that very very few people have taken the time to learn- 

Every person you come in contact with has a story. If you take the time to learn it, you will be blessed beyond measure! 

She takes the time to greet everyone she meets. She remembers the details that those genuine interactions have allowed those people to share with her. She is greeted like a rock star in most of her local stores and by people in the most random places. People share things with her that they may not share with anyone else and she listens…. really, truly listens to them. She treats everyone with equal respect- from the senator of her district to the man who picks up her trash and because of that, no matter where I go with her I’m always told ‘Your mom is awesome!!’ 

•When giving to those less fortunate than yourself, your gift better be fit for a king. If it’s not- don’t give it at all•

One of the most annoying effects of being part of a large family is the assumption that you ‘need’ something and in that need, you will be satisfied with the crap other people should just throw away. My mom always worked hard to insure our clothing was impeccable, our hair was done, and we were beautifully presentable. Sadly (back to those idiots again) some people still decided that we MUST be in need because we had a passel of kids. I don’t remember EVER being given clothing that my mother would let any of us wear. Even as I type that it shocks me! People would ‘bless us’ with stains and holes…. each time my mom would throw those clothes away she would look me in the eye and say- If you’re going to give to someone, give something that is the best of what you have. Don’t tell yourself you’re doing anything good otherwise and don’t ever refer to it as blessing someone else if you’re not! Even when there was a need in our own home, I never saw her do less for others than give of the very best! Donated clothes were clean, ironed, and in perfect condition or they were not given at all. The things she gave were fit for a king and never spoken about again. 

•Stand up for what you know is right. No matter what others may think•

Sometimes standing up means standing alone. But if your heart is convicted of anything, it’s better to stand with that truth by yourself than turn from it to be one in the crowd. 

•Grossing your kids out by kissing your spouse in the kitchen is one of the best gifts you will ever give them•

I remember the sounds of giggling EWWWWs!! and covered faces that would chorus from the children as my dad would stop to kiss my mom right as he was about to leave for work. Now with my own laughter filled EWWWW chorus I  fully understand the gift of kids seeing that their parents love each other. Of all the lessons we get to teach as parents, you gotta admit, this one lands at the top of the list. 

•We were worth it!•

Every moment of swollen ankles, sleepless nights, long days, and every single minute of her incredibly long labors. (Which she always blew off as a walk in the park.) In my mother’s eyes each of us was worth every second of it all. We had a value to her that was above anything else she could have chosen in this world. Even now her voicemail message reflects that truth! 

Hello! You’ve reached D and all of my blessings- her cheerful voice proclaims. Even though all but one of us have moved out, started our own families and no longer live at home- we are still included in her daily message to her friends calling to chat. We are worth every second….. we are her blessings and she is ours. 

As I get ready to celebrate this Mother’s Day, I am so thankful for everything my mom taught me. I wonder if she even realizes the lessons she imparted to me just by living. As I look at our children, I hope I am living some of these lessons or others like them in their eyes. 

💕Happy Mother’s Day Mom!! I love you more with each parenting milestone I face. Thank you for all the lessons and love. 💕