I should probably keep this post until Mother’s Day, but I’m pretty sure I’ll have more to say then, so I’m just going to post this now. My mom is basically awesome. She is way cooler than I have ever been or ever will be. Also, she loves me a whole lot. Even though we’re 1,000 miles apart, and she doesn’t like email, phone calls, texting, or writing letters, I still feel like she’s a part of my life. Part of that is because even though she doesn’t like any of those ways of long-distance communication, she uses them anyway. Mostly, though, it’s because she has embedded certain phrases in my mind that I hear whether she’s around or not. Brainwashing, you might call. Or perhaps parenting. The distinction is somewhat fuzzy to me. So here are some things my Mom says that continue to guide my life.
1. Sleep is good. I admit to fighting her on this one until Jacob was born. I could always sleep later, right? But not anymore. Sleep is more important to me than gold. Forget Trident Layers, I want to be paid in sleep.
I also notice now that it’s easier for me to be a good person if I’m well-rested. I more a patient and creative mother. I’m calmer. I’m able to keep my temper. I think things are funny rather than annoying. I’m a better person and the world is a better place when I’ve slept. So Mom was right. Who knew?
This motto is really indicative of Mom’s emphasis on self-care. My Mom is a truly charitable woman. She believes in service, but, she argues, you can’t help others unless you’ve taken care of yourself. So I help my family by getting enough sleep (just enough mind you; Mom doesn’t advocate gluttony). I help my neighbor by keeping gas in my car in case someone needs a ride. I try to have well-organized but flexible schedules in case someone needs last-minute babysitting. So “sleep is good” means “Take care of yourself, honey.” It also means “Be prepared to take care of others.”
2. Why not?/ Who says? Whenever I come to my Mom with a concern, my concern is often predicated on an assumption. I say to my Mom, “And of course I can’t _________ .” Mom’s response is always “Why not?” Why can’t I _______ ? Usually the only thing standing in my way is myself. My Mom believes that I can do anything I want, that where there’s a will, there’s a way, and that if I can dream it, I can do it. She does add the caveat that while I can have it all, maybe I can’t have it all at once. But that’s no reason not to try. Which brings me to:
3. What’s the best/worst that could happen? Whenever I am faced with a choice, I consider these two options. I also use these questions as a way to still anxiety. It doesn’t always work. I went skiing this weekend, and tried to calm myself by saying, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Obviously I considered death as a possibility. Eventually, though, in true brainwashed-by-my-mother fashion, I said to myself, “So what?” (see “Who says?” above; these questions are similar in tone) what was the worst that could happen if I died? I decided it was unlikely that I would die on a bunny slope, and if I did, well, then I would find out if I’d been right to be a Mormon all these years. In Mom’s philosophy, the best that could happen is slightly more probable than the worst. I might as well go for it.
4. Just do it; then it’s done. Whether doing something scary-exciting, like trying out for the school play (or skiing), or something unpleasant, like cleaning my room, Mom encouraged me to act. Most of the fear that arises in certain situations comes from not knowing what to expect. My own overactive imagination invariably proposes the worst. Mom told me to just act instead of worrying about what might happen. Once I clean my room, I don’t have to dread the exercise of cleaning my room. It’s already clean. I also wouldn’t need to argue with Mom about cleaning my room anymore. I still drag my feet about washing the dishes and other chores, but now I do them. I also just clamp those skis on and see what happens.
5. I Love You (Anyway). My Mom loves me no matter what I do. I can say this because I’ve tried my hardest to disappoint her, but she loves me anyway. She told me on the phone the other day that “Whatever you are, it’s enough.” I don’t have to have a fancy title — or any title at all– or money or a job or anything at all. Just by existing, I’m special to my mother. For some people, this might be an excuse to slack off, or it might make it possible for me to take advantage of her love for me. But Mom knows that I am a driven person. I came home from kindergarten one day and reviewed my worksheets with her. Handing her one graded sheet I hadn’t seen yet, I said, “If it’s not an A, I’ll kill myself!” Mom shut the homework folder and threw away the paper without letting us look at it. My mom knows that I need permission to relax and to let myself be enough.
Taking all of these saying together, I realize what a wonderful Mother I have. She encourages me (her volunteer-addicted daughter) to take care of myself. She encourages me (her timid daughter) to get out there and do things. She encourages me (her driven daughter) to accept myself as I am. She bases all these exhortations in a foundation of love. Of course she has her faults, but so what? She may say different things to my siblings than she says to me, but she tailors her message to its recipient. She is so good at being a Mom. I am so blessed to have her as mine.