Lessons Learned from a Lovely Mom
I have been blessed with the loveliest mom.
She is a quiet, behind-the-scenes sort of person. The one who is filling up your iced tea glass without you ever noticing. The one who always remembers to send a card at exactly the right time. The one you can always count on to be there when you need help with something. The one who is in the supporting role that often times gets overlooked.
But just because she is quiet doesn’t mean she doesn’t wield great strength. The ability to remain gentle and calm in a hard world is, frankly, a superpower.
She turns 80 this week. A big milestone for her and a zillion reasons for us to be thankful to have her in our lives.
I have learned so much from her. Most of it is by example, as you might expect from a quiet and gentle person. But I don’t have to look very hard to list the ways she has shaped my life.
1. Always use a coaster.
This will make anyone who knows me (or her) laugh. But my mom is serious with a captial ‘S’ about using a coaster. There were a lot of wooden hand-me-down antiques in our home and she didn’t want to see them ruined. She taught me that showing respect for your things and taking good care of them mattered. Taking our things for granted wasn’t allowed.
2. You are never too old for naps.
My mom can get a lot done. She is a hard, hard worker (as is evidenced by the many times she has helped me move). But she has always been a napper. For those of you who haven’t figured it out yet in your adult life, you are really never too old for a good nap. She taught me that there is a time to Get To It. But there is also value in taking a rest.
3. Presentation matters.
Whether she is setting a lovely table for a holiday meal or wrapping a gift, my mom makes it as beautiful as possible. She taught me that HOW a thing is done is just as important as the doing of it. It need not be elaborate, but the effort that goes into how something is presented is just as much a display of love and thoughtfulness as the thing itself.
4. Have a servant’s heart.
Both of my parents are a genuine example of what faith looks like lived out in real life. My mother quietly and attentively looks to serve other people: in her family, in her church, in her home. She doesn’t need the spotlight and never asks for attention, although I’m sure she enjoys a thank you on occasion.
5. Go where the peace is.
My mom is a lover, not a fighter. Sometimes I have wished I had a little better ability to fight ‘right’, but I will never be sorry that our home was a place of peace. And she set the tone. She refused to argue about foolish things and when there was a conflict she would walk away until the climate cooled off. She taught me that very few things in life are worth arguing about and very little is really accomplished with angry words. You can’t overstate the value of a peaceful home.
6. Put on some lipstick.
My mom didn’t really start wearing makeup until I did when I became a teenager. Honestly, she never needed it. (She has beautiful skin.) But she never, and I mean never, ever, ever, leaves the house without lipstick. Not even to take a walk around the block. And it isn’t just the lipstick, really. She always looks put together, even when she isn’t being fancy. She taught me that it’s important to take a bit of pride in your appearance. Don’t get vain about it, but make that little extra effort to look nice.
7. Thoughtfulness is as simple as remembering.
My mom sends a zillion cards a year. She sends them for birthdays, sympathy, get well, you name it. She is the giver of small, happy gifts if you have an occasion to celebrate or just because. She is the one who bakes for the neighbor and calls the grocery clerk by name. Her style of giving isn’t usually elaborate. She makes jars of pickles and tiny loaves of yummy cakes and buys cute dishtowels to share. But the magic is that she makes people feel seen. In small ways she shows people they matter. Simply because she remembers.
Power is wielded in many different ways.
My lovely mom is who Gandhi meant when he said, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world”. She taught me that you don’t have to live the largest life to have great impact. She is one of the most impactful human beings I know, just by quietly and lovingly shining her gentle light on her world.
I hope I can be just like her when I grow up. Happy Birthday, Moms.