Sunday, May 9, 2010

10 Things I’ve Learned (or Hope to Learn) from my Mother

1.  Just let them try

When we lived in England, we lived in a cute little house that had a small pond in the back.  Since it was a rental, no one had kept up the pond, but I desperately wanted to have a working pond with goldfish in it.  I was a teenager, but on my own, I drained and cleaned the pond and stocked it with goldfish.  I also wanted to install a fountain.  I was convinced that I could do it because I had learned how to wire plugs in my physics class.  Despite the dire warnings from our electrician-bishop and my complete lack of experience, my mom let me try.  And it worked.  I have gained so much confidence from experiences like that.  I feel like I could do most things, and I owe that to my mom.

2.  A hot shower and a nap cure most ills.

My mother doesn’t believe in doctors.  Mostly.  I can count on my fingers the number of times I can remember going to the doctor as a child.  Whenever we got sick, she would tell us to go take a shower and a nap and we’d be alright.  And we usually were.  Of course, there was the time I got an excruciating rash and she refused to take me to the doctor because I was “being a baby.”  It wasn’t until I came up with a self-diagnosis of shingles that she agreed to schedule an appointment.  It turned out that I was right about the shingles, but she was right about the shower and nap.  It really does cure just about anything.  Headache, stomach ache, heart ache—a hot shower and a nap helps them all.

3.  Kids learn by experimenting

I have always been opinionated.  Throughout my entire childhood, I refused to let anyone tell me how I should cut my hair.  I have had every haircut under the sun—hair down my back, hair to my chin, hair to my ears, layered, bobbed, permed (twice!), bangs, no bangs…everything.  My mom would try to talk some sense into me (“Are you sure you want it that short?  Really, really sure?”) right up until the time I got into the chair, but she always let me have the final decision.  And it wasn’t always a good decision.  I have had some terrible haircuts in my 27 years.  But I learned by doing.  I repeated some mistakes more than once (how anyone can perm their hair with such disastrous results twice is beyond me), but I eventually developed my own sense of style.  I learned what looked good and what looked dreadful.  And now I’m absolutely fearless when it comes to my hair.  It will always grow back.

4.  Be available.

I like to think that I was a pretty easy kid to raise.  As a result, my parents were very lenient in terms of curfew.  There were a few ground rules to follow, but as long as those were adhered to, I came and went without much restriction.  The hard and fast rule, though, was that I had to check in when I came home.  It could be two in the morning, but I was to come and wake up my mom to let her know that I was home.  Despite the late hour, she was always interested in how my evening had gone.  She cheered with me when it went well, and let me cry when it went poorly.  These conversations were often very long.  But she never seemed to mind.  She must have been completely exhausted, but I always felt like I could talk to her, no matter how late.

5.  Look for ways to serve.

My mom always has someone she’s helping.  It might be a college student in need of a home, a parent in need of a babysitter, a sick person in need of dinner, or a first-time mom in need of a ride to the doctor.  She seems to attract those that need help.  She’s still raising an eight-year-old, but she serves more than most empty nesters.  Even though she can’t be called as a temple worker because she still has a child at home, she has become a “permanent sub” in the baptistry because they arewere so short-handed.  Her home is always open, as is her wallet.  She has taught by example that when we “are in the service of our fellow men, [we] are only in the service of our God.”

6.  Don’t sweat the small stuff. 

When I was 13, I asked my mom for permission to dye my hair purple.  It was summer and time for Girl’s Camp, and our ward’s color was purple.  My friend and I decided it would be great to dye our hair purple to show our camp spirit…or something like that.  While most moms would have freaked out and refused permission, my mom said okay.  Of course she wasn’t wild about the idea of her daughter having purple hair, but she was reasonable.  School was out.  I was a good kid.  And hair grows out.  So I dyed my hair purple and got it out of my system.  The big things—church, school, behavior—were important.  Purple hair?  Not so much.

7.  It’s okay to have cereal for dinner.

Until I was 15, my mom worked full-time.  I don’t know how she did it.  I do know that I never felt neglected.  She always made it to every school function, our house was always clean, and she always found time to read to us.  But something had to give.  And so we learned that it was okay to have cereal for dinner sometimes.  In fact, it can be rather enjoyable.  Each person has exactly two dishes to put into the dishwasher, and dinner is ready in approximately five minutes.  She knew that her children would much rather have cuddletime with Mom than a fancy dinner.  And who doesn’t enjoy a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats?

8.  Don’t argue with a two-year-old.

My sister Heather was, shall we say….difficult.  She was that child.  You know, the one that is always giving you a run for your money.  (We won’t say who that child is in our family.  But you could probably guess.)  She would have mornings that got to be too much, and she’d call my dad, wondering what on earth she was supposed to do with such a strong-willed child.  My dad would ask, “Why are you arguing with a two-year-old?”  Now when I call her, telling about the day’s battles with that child, she’ll remind me that I shouldn’t be arguing with a two- (or three-) year-old.  It’s empowering.

9.  A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.

I remember feeling sorry for my mom because it seemed like she always missed out on the fun stuff.  If the family was watching a movie, she’d be doing dishes (don’t ask why we weren’t in helping her).  She’d miss the fun rides at the theme parks because she was in the kiddie section.  She was always the one to miss the skiing trip if someone was sick.  Now I realize that that’s just what moms do.  You don’t watch the movie—because that means that you can clean without someone making a mess right behind you.  You stay in the kiddie section—because the spinny rides make you sick anyways.  You stay behind with the sick child—because no one can do that better than a mom can.

10.  It’s hard to give too much praise.

My mom wanted to be sure that her children would be confident.  So she always made sure to tell me how beautiful I was.  She realized she had created a monster when she found my two-year-old self twirling in front of the full-length mirror, repeating, “I so bootiful!  I SOOOOOO bootiful!”  I don’t think the damage was too long-lasting…right?  Right?  My mom thinks I’m amazing at EVERYTHING.  Seriously.  Sometimes I’ll be on the phone with her, and I’ll hear my dad tell her, “Tone it down, Gayle!  She’s going to get a huge head!”  That’s what dads are for—keeping it real.  But moms are for building us up.  For letting us know that we are SOOOOOO bootiful.


Jen Kesler said...

Love it! This post and the one below...glad Paul didn't do too much damage. I would ask why you don't have any gray hair while in the process of raising that cute boy, but hair dye seems to be the answer! :) I really think I should jump on the hair dye bandwagon as I now have a few gray hairs...a result in raising my very own "that" child...and I bet you could guess who mine is as well!

Christopher P. Davey said...

Your Mum is the best! Our favorites were the purple hair and the fish pond adventure!

Laura said...

What a cool post! Thank you for sharing it - it makes me think of my own mom and all that she has taught me.

selway2005 said...

I loved your post about your mom, and I too think she is the best...the only reason she has not been translated yet is that we still need her down here ;)

What a great way to celebrate Mother's Day. Happy Mother's Day, Chelsea!

Heather Wahlquist said...

Just for the record...I was not that difficult of a child! You were always the one taunting me. I was a perfect angel. But, seriously Chels, that is a wonderful tribute to mom. She truly is a wonderful person and she is such a great role model. I hope that you both had a wonderful Mother's Day!

Stef said...

What a great post! I am loving the cereal for dinner...I do that sometimes. You have a great mom! And you are one too!!

Julie Jorgensen said...

What a sweet post! Your mom is truly an amazingly loving and sweet person. And you are really leaving up to her example! love you both. HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!

Julie said...

ooops. Meant to say "living."