I don’t know if it is impeccable timing on the part of the Universe, but in the last two weeks, I have read two books that featured lists where the authors described what they learned from their mothers. After reading Amy Poehler’s Yes, Please, I commented to friends how we should create lesson lists for our moms since Mother’s Day was approaching. Then I read a similar list in Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind Of Girl, and figured it must be a sign.
So, here it is. The list of things I have learned from my mother, the condensed version.
1. Don’t be afraid to cut your hair because you are never going to like it anyway. (Got to remember this lesson yesterday.)
2. Foil makes things fancy. Cardboard is just cardboard. Cover it with foil and its a serving tray! (I have it on good authority that this lesson has been passed on by quite a few moms, and is still in practice with their daughters today.)
3. Write. As a teenager, I came across a bundle of typed papers in the garage and after reading a few paragraphs, realized it was a story my mom had written. I can’t really describe the bewilderment followed by kinship I felt for her at that moment. I had no idea that I got my need to write from her.
4. Don’t skip dessert. It is the best part of the meal.
5. Leftover Mexican food is real breakfast of champions.
6. Stay strong during a crisis. Break down when it’s over- My mom is a rock. When times get tough, she doesn’t panic or devolve into sobs. She figures out how to handle the situation, gets it under control and cries when its all over (and maybe a little during.)
7. If you love someone, cook for them. Feed them their favorite meals served on your most beautiful dishes. A well prepared meal and a beautiful presentation lets your guest know they are welcome.
8. There are two ways to do things- the wrong way and her way.
9. Neutrals are boring. Color = life.
10. Record your history. My mom keeps a meticulous calendar of birthdays, going back several generations, including all her favorite celebrities. (Willie Nelson, Elvis Presley, and John Elway are more like family saints). She saves every card and letter. She knows all the family stories. I don’t do all of that, but I am a meticulous photographer for the same reason.
11. Don’t take no for an answer. My mom is a tiny, adorable sweet looking woman. Don’t let her appearance fool you. She is the boss. She gets what she wants.
12. It is important to be aware of something bigger than yourself. Over the years, my parents have lived in many homes. But my mom is never comfortable unless she has a view of Pikes Peak. I get that. I need to see something bigger than this modern life- something outside of buildings, cars, grocery stores, and highways. I need to feel that connection to nature, to know I am both small, but also a unique part of a system that has been in existence far beyond what I can comprehend.
13. You are not how you look. In high school, my mother had a large brain tumor removed that paralyzed half of her face. With time and work, she has regained much of the function of those muscles. But I recall her writing me a letter after my father’s death, describing how he told her how much he loved her “crooked smile.” He loved the woman, so when her smile changed, he loved that too. My dad would have never told me that story. It means everything that my mother shared it with me.
14. Family is forever. I don’t know if I appreciated this until I moved from Colorado, where most of my family lives, to Arizona. When I see my family, I find an unbelievable comfort in being with them. There is something about being with people who know your history, who understand exactly where you have come from without saying a word.
15. Moms are the definition of unconditional love. If you are familiar with my blog, you know sometimes I can get a bit racy. The question I always get asked is “Does your family read your blog?” Yes, my mother reads everything I write, and has never shown an ounce of embarrassment. She has always accepted me as a creative person, and has always shown pride to have me as her daughter. When I have made mistakes, she has been there to help me get back up. I have never hidden who I am from her, and I love that I have never had to.
This list could go on and one. But I hope that she knows I love her, respect her, think the world of her, and can’t believe how lucky I am to be one of her children. She’s the definition of strength, never gives up, and always finds a way to make it work. And she makes the best homemade noodles you’ve ever tasted.
Love you Mom!