Things My Mother Did Right


These two call me Mom.

Things my mother did right…Does that title surprise you the way it does me?

I do not have a relationship with my mother and my best motherly moments came from all the other women placed in my life at the exact right moment and in the exact right place. Most of the lessons I have from my mother is of how NOT to do it.

BUT in my ongoing effort to grow emotionally and spiritually, there are things she did right. And so, for mental health awareness month and Mother’s Day (a very strong link between the two for me), here is that list:

1) She taught me to sew. It’s more than that, she taught me how to weigh fabric, judge stitching. She taught me to appreciate the work and talent in something wellmade. I do not like sewing, but it is a skill I appreciate having. And my appreciation of all the handicraft arts- I really think is from my  mother.

2) She taught me how to take a break. I was having a really bad time my sophomore year. We had moved to Texas and it wasn’t the fun adventure I had hoped and more of a nightmare as I navigated in a town much smaller and with kids who seemed to have known each other since they were “knee high to a grasshopper”.  In retrospect, I was also dealing with some intense PTSD as a result of our family drama and being separated from the family who I felt safe with. But as I sat on the couch completely dejected yet ready to climb in the car for the ride to school, my mother said “How about a day off?” And she took me along on her errands and out to lunch. Nothing fancy. If memory serves, it was fast food. But  that was a pivotal day for me to understand some days you just need a break.

3) She taught me not to give up. One thing about my mother, she is what you might call eternally persistent. She’s reinvented herself more times than I can count. She is able to rise above and move on in ways that make most people marvel. We certainly could (and have) argue the details of these re-incarnations and about those who got stepped on as she rose, but the fact is, the woman does not crawl into a hole and curl up in defeat. And neither do I.

4) It doesn’t hurt to ask. Nicely. My mother had a way of charming her way in to places that were closed. Or out of tickets. She does not “know her place” and she is bold enough to just try and see what happens.  It embarrassed me to no end as a kid. And now, I definitely have a side that will knock on the locked door or ignore the “prohibited” sign. And if a smile and flattery work to my advantage, I am okay with that.

5)  She taught me to embrace differences. My mother married someone of a different race, giving me a bi-cultural upbringing for 10 years of my life. We had people in our lives of different races, creeds, religions, cultures, and sexual identities. For a white girl, I know a  lot of diverse people and like it. I like to try new foods (sans mushrooms) and am interested in different people and their way of life. Given a number of other factors in my life, it would be easy to operate in a narrow window of a comfort zone. But my comfort zone is all stretchy and filled with wonderful differences.

So, yes, there is plenty my mother did wrong. But she got a few things right. And I refuse to dwell on the pain, so there you go.

I hope you have a happy Mother’s Day– whether you’re celebrating a mom who did it mostly right or not.